As we age, our vision naturally declines, affecting every aspect of life. Declining eyesight can make driving more difficult. As people get older, the ability to see moving objects tends to deteriorate, peripheral vision becomes less crisp and reaction time becomes a bit more sluggish.
These “normal’ issues can be complicated by conditions like macular degeneration, making driving a much greater challenge for those in their 60s and beyond. Fortunately, there are ways for older drivers to compensate for visual shortcomings.
Stay safe behind the wheel with these tips:
Don’t drive distracted. Since reaction times tend to be slower for seniors, it’s imperative to avoid distractions, such as cell phone use or tuning the radio. Studies have found that cellphones decrease seniors’ reaction times even more than they do younger drivers. Play it safe and smart by focusing on the road.
Take your time at intersections. Intersections are some of the deadliest locations for all drivers. Play it safe by checking for traffic lights, traffic signs, pedestrians and oncoming vehicles before proceeding. Taking even an extra second or two to ensure everything is clear can prove vital.
Stick to familiar paths. Unfamiliar roads can be especially dangerous for older drivers, particularly at night. Try to stick to familiar territory when driving. When that’s not possible, map out a route before leaving home to gain a sense of familiarity with what lies ahead. If you know you will be driving a new route at night, if possible, take a “test drive” down the same route during daylight hours to get familiar with the roads.
Slow down at night. Night driving is especially dangerous for senior drivers who simply do not see as well in the dark as they once did. To compensate for this issue, slow down a bit to give your eyes time to adjust in the dark.
Aging eyes doesn’t mean seniors can’t be safe drivers. The trick is to know the limitations and compensate wisely for them. Going in for regular eye exams can also be especially important to ensure crisp, clear vision at all times.
Although the thought of giving up driving is very difficult for most senior citizens, it’s important to maintain an open conversation with your eye doctor and other health care providers to ensure driving is safe for you.