Senior Driving: Safety On The Road

Safety should be the number one concern of any person who gets behind the wheel and operates a motor vehicle.  This is true not just for young people, but for experienced drivers as well.  People of all ages need to be concerned about being safe while driving.  Our bodies change as we grow older and we each need to be aware of how those changes impact our ability to operate a motor vehicle.  Growing older does not mean that you have to give up the independence of driving, but it does mean that in order to continue to drive safely you might need to modify the way you drive or be pro-active about correcting any physical issues that may interfere with safe driving.

Taking charge of your health is vital to remaining independent and continuing to be a safe driver. You should schedule regular annual check-ups with your doctor to make sure you stay in tip-top driving shape. It is important to have your eyes checked every year and to update your prescription eyeglasses and contacts.  For improved visibility while driving you should keep your windshield, windows, headlights, and mirrors clean.  Also, don’t forget to have your hearing checked annually. If you wear a hearing device, make sure to use it while driving.  It is critical to be able to hear the sounds of traffic and approaching emergency vehicles. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about any new medications you are taking and ask questions about possible side-effects which may interfere with your ability to drive.

Before heading out onto the street, make sure your car is in good driving condition. Schedule regular maintenance appointments and take care of any needed repair work immediately. Replace burnt out headlights promptly and always keep your windows clean for optimal visibility. You may also want to increase the brightness of your car’s instrument display to improve safety for night-time driving.

Pay close attention to your driving and take the extra steps necessary to drive safely. It is true that you have been driving a number of years, but please don’t use experience as an excuse to drive in a reckless or careless manner.  Drive defensively and avoid distractions. Don’t drive too closely to the vehicle in front of you and pay extra attention when entering the highway and going through intersections. Don’t talk or text on your cell phone while driving and avoid distractions like adjusting the radio and reading a GPS.

It is important to understand your comfort level and to be cognizant of your own limitations when driving. As your vision and health change, you may find it necessary to modify your driving practices. Some senior drivers decide to drive only during daylight hours because of reduced visibility at night or sensitivity to bright lights from oncoming traffic. Many older drivers choose to stay off the road during inclement weather such as rain, snow, and icy conditions. If driving on highways causes you extra stress, then consider staying off freeways and interstates, and look for less congested routes to your destinations.  A little bit of extra caution can go a long way in preventing a car crash.  If a driving situation makes you uncomfortable, then don’t do it.

About the Author: Richmond, VA personal injury attorney Chris Guedri has over 30 years of experience handing catastrophic injury and wrongful death cases. Chris is also experienced in handling bus accidents, trucking accidents and car accident cases in Richmond and throughout Virginia, some involving traumatic brain injury (TBI). Recognized by his peers as a superb litigator, Chris has been listed in the book Best Lawyers in America since 1995 and in 2008 he was inducted into the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, an organization of attorneys who are elected to membership based on their reputation for excellence. He has also been included among the “Legal Elite Best Lawyers in Virginia” by Virginia Business Magazine.