Senior Scene for October 26 2015
Last week I wrote a column regarding Car Safety month and this week I am going to follow up with some information on driver safety. Driver safety is an important issue for seniors. Driving can be more difficult for older adults due to a decrease in physical and mental health including visual, hearing, motor and cognitive (such as problem solving) abilities. Older adults who are in accidents recover less quickly and less fully than younger people which can lead to unnecessary dependency on others and most likely put a stop to your driving.
Here are some tips that older adults (actually all drivers) should practice to ensure their own safety and that of their passengers. It is important to consider your fitness to drive, adjusting your vehicle for optimal use, traffic congestion, and weather conditions.
- Have your eyes and hearing tested regularly and wear those recommended glasses and hearing aids
- If you are on medications, check to make sure it is safe to drive while taking them. Do not drive if you are tired and avoid long hours of continuous driving.
- Do not drive if you are emotionally upset.
- Keep your wits about you! As you drive, try the game “what if” to stay alert and mentally prepared for driving emergencies.
- Do exercises and stretches to improve your neck and body flexion so you can easily look around you when backing up, turning, and checking your blind spots.
- Drive only. Do not use a cell phone, eat, smoke, or carry on an animated conversation with a passenger.
- Wear your seatbelt.
- Adjust your seat and headrest for comfort, to prevent injury and improve viewing.
- Adjust your mirrors for a clear view.
- Ensure your visor can prevent glare.
- Keep all windows clear and clean, inside and out.
- Keep unnecessary noise to a minimum: radio, fan and passenger noise.
- Make sure your vehicle is properly maintained and safe to drive in adverse conditions such as snow, ice, and rain.
- Heavier traffic and fast moving highways may be more difficult. Consider alternative routes or take a re-fresher course or lesson. Avoid rush hour when you can.
- Difficult left turn? Try making three rights instead to decrease risk and get you going in the right direction.
- Heavy rain, wind, snow and ice make driving hazardous for everyone and avoid this if at all possible.
- Driving at night, dusk or dawn may be more difficult for those with poorer eyesight even when wearing glasses.
Despite the frequent derogatory references to “senior” drivers, I have to comment on my observations during my 60 km. commute to and from work every day. Young, female drivers seem to be the most dangerous and aggressive on the route I travel daily. They travel at excessive speeds, talk and text while driving, tailgate, and are seemingly oblivious to regulatory traffic postings. For example, a young lady last week tailgated my vehicle for several kilometres through a posted 60 zone and then proceeded to pass me on a double solid line, in a posted 40 school zone and fly by the police station on her way toward Shannonville. Similarly, the 60 kph zone from Point Anne to Belleville – is the posted speed merely a suggestion?