If you got your license when you were 16 – and that’s decades in the past – a lot has changed in since then. Some of those changes have made you a better driver (you’re not as reckless as you were as a teen!) and, as hard as it is to admit, some of those changes may have made you a worse driver (your vision isn’t what it once was). It’s never too late to learn something new, so here are five tips for older drivers.
Refresh your skills
Can’t teach an old dog new tricks? Not true! Even if you’ve been driving for a few decades, you can still upgrade your skills with a drivers education course. Courses designed specifically for older adults address concerns that come with aging, such as vision and hearing loss, longer reaction times, and mobility issues. These courses can be particularly helpful if you’re over 80 and required to participate in a senior license renewal program, like the one in Ontario that requires older drivers to fulfill a set of requirements every two years in order to renew their license.
Follow your doctor’s orders
If you’re experiencing health problems associated with aging, your doctor might recommend some restrictions to your driving. For example, some prescriptions might cause drowsiness or dizziness, and your doctor will advise that you do not drive while taking that medication. If your doctor prescribes glasses or a hearing aid to assist with vision or hearing loss, make sure you never get behind the wheel without them. While it might be hard to admit that your health is affecting your ability to operate a vehicle, you’ll be a better driver if you cooperate with your doctor to proactively address and manage health concerns.
Know your limits
Do you have a hard time seeing the road at night – even with your glasses? Do you find it harder to divide your attention between two activities, such as keeping an eye on traffic while also looking for an unfamiliar destination? Have you noticed that your reaction times are slower than before? Ignoring these warning signs can push you past your limit, making it more likely that you’ll cause an accident or put yourself in a position to lose your license. Instead, limit your driving to daytime if you’re experiencing difficulty with night time vision; plan your route in advance if it’s difficult for you to concentrate on directions and driving at the same time; and avoid driving during rush hour if your reaction times are slowing down.
Modify your car
One way to address your physical limits is to modify your vehicle. For example, if limited neck mobility makes it hard for you to check your blind spot, you can add additional or different mirrors that will increase your range of visibility. If arthritis makes it difficult for you to grip the wheel, a steering wheel cover can help. Or if you experience hip and back pain when sitting, consider adding a seat pad or cushion to your driver’s seat. These simple modifications won’t just keep you comfortable behind the wheel, they’ll also make you a safer driver, which will hopefully translate to more good driving years.
Save on insurance
Did you know that you can be charged more for insurance just because of your age? According to the a ruling from the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal, insurance companies can charge senior citizens more for their coverage because they are more prone to collisions resulting in fatalities.
To make sure you are getting the best rate possible, compare quotes from multiple insurance providers before you renew your policy each year. There are many websites that will allow you to quickly and easily compare options between providers – but remember: cheaper isn’t always better. To get the best coverage for your money, you should also compare factors such as the amount of coverage offered, the cost of the deductibles, and perks like roadside assistance or accident forgiveness.