Driving: Tips for Modern Seniors

couple in red convertible

Driving: one of the most sought after tools of independence throughout our lives. You couldn’t wait to get your license as a teenager, and you love the freedom driving gives you. You want to stay driving as long as possible.

 As an aging driver, reduced hearing, reflexes and vision can make safe driving difficult. But you are more than capable of driving safely with a few simple changes.

Update Your Car

senior driving

We are fortunate to live in a time where cars can play a large part in preventing accidents. Some cars can even take control of the steering wheel and pedals in an emergency. Other drivers can be unpredictable and you may not be able to react quickly enough without this feature. Here are some important safety features that you should have on your car:

driving demo animation collision prevention
  • Anti-lock brakes use sensors to detect when the car's wheels lock up. These brakes grab and release quickly to allow for increased handling under hard braking.
  • Side-curtain airbags deploy along the windows, protecting passengers in side impact collisions.
  • Traction control detects when a wheel is slipping and losing traction. Traction control applies extra braking to that wheel, giving you greater control on slippery surfaces.
  • Tire pressure monitors measure how much air is in the tires. If the pressure is too high or low, the computer will notify you so that you can fix the problem. You want to maintain optimal tire pressure to improve fuel economy, tire wear, and traction.
  • Back-up cameras display the rear view of the car when in reverse. The cameras have wide-angle lenses so you can see how much room you have to back up.
  • Parking sensors use radar to measure the distance between obstacles and your car. If you get to close to the curb, your car will warn you with a warning light and/or beep.
  • Adaptive cruise control lets you take a break from managing your cars speed. You set it like normal cruise control and it will automatically change your speed depending on the traffic. It prevents accidents by staying a consistent distance from the cars ahead of you.
  • Lane departure warning systems notify you when you’re drifting from your lane and can even move your car back into your lane for you.
  • Forward-collision warning systems sound an alarm if you get too close to another car. This system can even automatically apply the brakes to prevent an impact.

It is not only high-end car companies making ultra-safe cars. Nearly every automaker offers models with plenty of great safety features for reasonable prices. You can find lane departure sensors and front-collision prevention around the $30,000 mark.

Your car should help keep you safe. Choose a car that will watch out for you. When you leave your car, you can trust your Alert1 medical alert device to protect you. You can use our mobile medical alert to call for help with the push of a button no matter where you are. 

Avoid Night Driving

drivers veiw driving at night
  • Night driving is one of the most dangerous times for a senior driver to be on the road. Try to avoid night driving whenever possible. If you must drive at night, make sure your car has these features:
  • Adaptive high beams that let you see without blinding other drivers. These high beams automatically turn off when they detect another car and turn back on when it’s safe.
  • Halogen headlights to illuminate the darkness. Halogens are extremely bright so you can see all possible dangers.
  • Night-driving glasses for better night vision. The special lenses can help you see in the dark by reducing glare and increasing contrast.

It is most important to drive only in situations that you feel safe. If it is safer, take street routes instead of highways and avoiding driving in bad weather. Rain and snow can be dangerous for any driver and these conditions should be avoided when you can.

Take a Refresher Course

As legal drivers, we have all taken the DMV driving test. But over time our skills behind the wheel get rusty. It’s always a good idea remind ourselves of the rules. The DMV offers a refresher course that can help you brush up on your driving.

In a refresher course you will review the rules of the road and get feedback on how to be a safer driver. A one-time fee and a few hours spent at the DMV can leave you ready for many more years behind the wheel. 

Manage Your Health

Pay close attention to how comfortable and assured you feel driving. Are you missing any exits that used to be routine or frequently getting lost? While these incidents can happen to anyone, it may be time to talk to your doctor.

To be a safe driver, you need to see where you’re going and hear what’s going on around you. You should get a vision and hearing test once a year to make sure you can drive safely. While you are there, talk with your doctor about any medications you are taking and how they may affect your driving.

It’s OK to Stop Driving

Doctor and patient smiling

The most important thing is to remember that cutting back on driving or even giving up your license altogether is not a defeat. It is simply the acceptance of a new stage of life. There are many resources to help seniors stay mobile. These include motorized scooters, community shuttles, ride sharing, taxis, or public transportation.