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If you’re a driver over the age of 65, these practical safety tips will help you enhance your driving skills and ensure safety on the road.

By 2050 one-quarter of U.S. drivers will be 65 or older. As we age, we experience declines in vision (acuity, contrast sensitivity and processing); in cognition (divided and selective attention) and in motor skills (grip strength and range of motion). We also have a slower reaction time. Fortunately, we also tend to avoid driving during rush hour, at night and during inclement weather. We make fewer and shorter trips.

But by 75 we become as likely to cause an accident as a teenage and, if there is an accident, we are less likely to survive it. At ages 75 to 79, we are two-and-a-half times as likely to die in a car accident than someone under 65. At 80, we are five times as likely to die.

Enhancing Your Car’s Safety Capabilities

Before we foreswear any non-emergency driving, we can make sure that our vehicle is better equipped to help us. We can ensure that it has an antilock braking system, cruise control, displays which project on the dashboard in out line of sight, and alerts for backing up and for our blind spots.

Understanding How Medications Affect Driving

Certain medications increase the likelihood that we will be the one causing the crash: benzodiazepines, opioids, anticholinergics, anticonvulsants an antipsychotics. When we are prescribed any of these medications, we can take a holiday from driving.

There is no one test of individual driving fitness.

Improving Driving Skills with Education and Training

We can take a course at St. David’s in South Austin to improve our driving fitness. AARP offers an online course for between $20 and $35. www.aarpdriversafety.org. Workbooks and a self-assessment is available at www.kepingussafe.org. We can check out our field of vision at www.visualawareness.com and review the American Occupational Therapy Association’s online YouTube videos.

We can also move to a more walkable environment; use public transportation, Uber or Lyft and Drive-a-Senior; and have groceries, meds and other goods delivered.

David Brian Carr and Ganesh Mineshwar Babulal, “Addressing the Complex Needs of an Aging Population” Journal of the American Medical Association September 1, 2023 doi:10:1001/jama.2021.16093

 

Elder law attorney, Terry Garrett, CELA, is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and is an Approved Guardianship Attorney. She assists people in elder law, estate and special needs planning, guardianship and settling estates. She graduated with honors from Cornell University. She was on the Dean’s List at Wharton Business School. She earned her J.D. at Columbia Law School, receiving the Parker Award and a Mellon Fellowship.

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