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Older adults can take several steps to stay safe on the road, including:
- Exercising regularly to increase strength and flexibility.
- Asking your doctor or pharmacist to review medicines–both prescription and over-the counter–to reduce side effects and interactions.
- Having eyes checked by an eye doctor at least once a year. Wear glasses and corrective lenses as required.
- Driving during daylight and in good weather.
- Finding the safest route with well-lit streets, intersections with left turn arrows, and easy parking.
- Planning your route before you drive.
- Leaving a large following distance behind the car in front of you.
- Avoiding distractions in your car, such as listening to a loud radio, talking on your cell phone, texting, and eating.
- Considering potential alternatives to driving, such as riding with a friend or using public transit, which you can use to get around.
Get involved by regularly checking the driving of your parent or other senior driver in your life. Here are two common warning signs:
- The senior driver has been issued two or more traffic tickets or warnings in the past two years. Tickets can predict greatest risk for collision.
- The senior driver has been involved in two or more collisions or “near-misses” in the past two years. Rear-end crashes, parking lot fender-benders and side collisions while turning across traffic rank as the most common mishaps for drivers with diminishing skills, depth perception or reaction time.
Initiating a conversation about safe driving with an older driver, especially a parent, is challenging for most people. Concerns about offending or alienating an older driver are normal. There is no simple or easy way to address the subject, but if you want to help preserve the older driver’s personal freedom and mobility, while ensuring safety on the road, there are steps you can take.
- Communicate openly and respectfully. Nobody wants to be called a dangerous driver, so avoid making generalizations about older drivers or jumping to conclusions about their skills or abilities behind the wheel. Be positive, be supportive and focus on ways to help keep them safely on the go.
- Avoid an intervention. Keep the discussion between you and the older driver you want to assist. Inviting the whole family to the conversation will alienate and possibly anger the person you’re trying to help.
- Make privacy a priority. Always ask for permission to speak with an older driver’s physician, friends or neighbors about the driver’s behavior behind the wheel.
- Never make assumptions. Focus on the facts available to you, such as a medical condition or medication regimen that might make driving unsafe. Do not accuse an older driver of being unsafe or assume that driving should be stopped altogether. Focus the conversation on safe driving and working together.
Information pulled from seniordriving.aaa.com.
- NIOSH: Older Drivers in the Workplace: How Employers and Workers Can Prevent Crashes
- University of Michigan, Transportation Research Institute: Driving Decisions Workbook
- AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety: Senior Driver Web Site
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: Active Aging Programs
- Community Transportation Association of America: Senior Transportation
- Rides In Sight: https://www.ridesinsight.org/
Join our team of part-time driver education instructors and make a difference in the lives of a teenager.
Becoming a driver education instructor is a great way to earn extra money while giving back to the community. While the level of instruction is demanding - it is also quite rewarding knowing that you are providing Nebraska families the peace of mind that comes with having their new drivers well trained and well prepared by caring, professional instructors.
For more information about the training and education required to be an instructor, click here.