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Giving up the independence of the car is hard. Often seniors continue to drive well past when it’s safe for them to be on the road. We all could use some reminders about how and when we should be driving as we age. Here are a few tips for cruising gracefully into the future.
1. Plan ahead. As we get older, we need to give ourselves a little more time for everything, including driving. So plan ahead for your daily trips by mapping your route and taking the safest roads to accomplish tasks in the most efficient way possible.
2. Avoid obstacles. If your errand is not absolutely necessary, put it off until conditions are the safest for travel. When possible, avoid driving in bad weather, during rush-hour and to locations that require a majority of time in high-speed areas.
3. Wear your belt. If it’s not already, start making wearing your seatbelt a habit. It should be an automatic action as you get into the driver seat. If you need help, stick a note on your dashboard or near your steering wheel. Then make sure your belt fits snuggly across your lap and shoulder. Older adults who are losing height should consider a booster.
4. Drive right. Take a driver safety class as a refresher. Following the basics, such as driving the appropriate speed limit, leaving the right distance between cars, and always checking your blind spot when changing lanes or backing up will keep you-and everyone else-safe.
5. Stay alert. Always look both ways at intersections, use your turn signals and watch for pedestrians. Take extra precaution at train tracks.
6. Mind your meds. Even if you think you feel fine, medication can affect your driving. Always ask your doctor about a new medication’s possible side effects, such as dizziness or drowsiness. There may be different dosages or alternative prescriptions that are safer when you’re behind the wheel.
7. Maintain your car. Eliminate one extra worry: the car breaking down. Schedule routine maintenance and check on those rattles and squeaks that don’t sound quite right-before it’s too late.