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For many of us, driving our own vehicle is convenient and represents independence and freedom. As we age we need to be aware of how getting older can affect driving skills.
Driving means independence and freedom for many older adults. It’s important to drive as safely as possible and be realistic about your driving capacity. Here are tools and tips to help you continue to drive safely and assess your ability to drive.
- Be aware that driving ability will change as you age
Some of the changes as you age relate to vision, hearing, memory, effects of medications, muscle strength, and flexibility. BEST (Better Environmentally Sound Transportation) offers tips for older drivers and their families about the changes that happen as drivers age, and when it’s time to seek alternatives.
- Know the warning signs of unsafe driving
- You lose your way.
- You have less confidence in your driving skills.
- You notice other drivers honk at you.
- You miss stop signs or traffic lights.
- You mix up gas and brake pedals.
- You have problems with lane changes or merging.
- You have minor accidents or traffic tickets.
- Your passenger needs to help you.
- Family and friends refuse to get in the car with you.
If you see these warning signs in your driving, it may be time to have your driving evaluated.
- Refresh your driving skills
Check your driving skills and knowledge on the BCAA seniors’ driver website. Tools and information are provided for senior drivers to assess and improve their skills.
- Estimate the cost of owning and operating a vehicle
Estimate and compare the cost of driving to walking, taking a taxi, car sharing, or transit.
- Consider the location of your home
What are your specific transportation needs now and in the future? How do you currently get around? Would you be able to get to places in the future if you were no longer able to drive? Would relocating make it easier for you to get where you want and need to go?
- Explore other ways to get around
Since many of us will outlive our ability to drive, it’s a good idea to think about all the ways to get around. Would walking, cycling, taxi or transit be an option if you could not drive? Do you have friends or family who could drive you? During other times in your life when you are not able to drive (on vacation, or when taking medication), try other ways of transport so you feel comfortable with them.
Did You Know?
Most people will outlive their ability to drive by about seven to 10 years.