Driving = Independence. Every teenager enthusiastically awaits the day they can drive alone and not be forced to rely on someone else for a ride. Similarly, it’s a freedom we are just as reluctant to give up when we reach the opposite end of the age spectrum.
Unfortunately, the statistics show that while senior drivers may take the most safety precautions on the road — wearing seatbelts, obeying speed limits, and not drinking and driving — they are also the most vulnerable and likely to be hurt in an accident and succumb to fatal injuries due to their body’s increased fragility. Being actively aware of how our bodies change as we age, and how that impacts the ability to drive, is important in keeping both senior drivers, and other passengers on the roads, as safe as can be.
How Aging Affects Our Bodies
Notice that there are no specific ages listed. Everyone ages at their own pace–some people begin to experience issues in their fifties and sixties that others aren’t noticing until their seventies or even eighties. But as our bodies age, everyone will eventually encounter the following limitations.
- Reduced mobility: Stiff necks and joints make it difficult to turn and look in all directions and check blind spots; it also limits maneuvering steering wheels and applying pressure to pedals.
- Poor vision and hearing: Decreases the ability to see signs clearly at a distance, or identify objects in low light, as well as not hear oncoming vehicles and warning signals.
- Memory lapses: Forgetting where you are going, or how to get there, results in missed turns and getting lost.
- Delayed reflexes: Causes drivers to mix up the brake and gas pedals, and be unable to turn or brake in time to avoid sudden slow downs and obstacles.
Tips To Increase Safe Driving
Choosing a vehicle that already offers safety features like Honda’s Blind Spot Information (BSI) system, power steering, anti-lock brakes, and automatic transmissions, will assist senior drivers in overcoming some of the physical challenges they face. Additional steps include:
- Annual doctor check-ups: Regularly have vision and hearing checked, and always use corrective lenses and hearing aids.
- Know medications: Certain medications, or combinations of different drugs, can have a serious impact on a driver’s senses, particularly their reflexes and reaction times.
- Avoid high risk situations: Travel only during daylight hours, avoid highways by using local routes, stay home in bad weather, and don’t drive when tired or recovering from an ailment.
- Minimize distractions: Only use GPS, cell phones, or adjust car controls when parked and not moving.
- Drive defensively: Leave plenty of following space, double and triple-check intersections, stay off wet and icy roads.
Accepting and addressing how our bodies change as we age, and making adjustments to accommodate those changes, will enable older adults to maintain the independence that driving offers for longer into their lives. When seniors are self-aware and realistic about limitations, and family members broach their concerns with care and respect, together they can find solutions that will keep everyone safe and mobile.
Driver and passenger safety has always been a hallmark for Honda and our line of vehicles. If you have questions on which car might best suit your needs, or the aging family member in your life, we can help. Give us a call, or stop by the Herb Chambers Honda of Seekonk dealership, to see all the latest safety features Honda offers and let us help find the right vehicle for you.
This blog is brought to you by Herb Chambers Honda of Seekonk. We invite you to like, comment, and share! Be sure to subscribe, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for the latest Honda news. You can also browse our selection of quality new and used cars or stop by our full-service dealership for test drives, parts, service, repairs, or just to say hello!