As we age, our senses dull and our minds are simply not what they used to be. Coordination and focus may not come as quickly, and movement may be a challenge. Losing specific abilities can affect the skills that you need to drive safely.
The following warning signs may indicate that your driving abilities have been affected by declining skills.
- Inability to see or hear what is happening outside of the vehicle
- Trouble moving your foot from one pedal to the other
- Difficulty turning your head back and forth
- Delayed reaction time
- Decreased confidence
- Getting lost in what should be familiar places
- Failing to recognize and react to dangerous situations
- Struggling to adapt to new circumstances
- Not using turn signals correctly (or at all)
- Trouble with judging spaces between vehicles or speed
- Parking inappropriately
- Failing to stop at traffic lights or signs
- Driving too fast or too slow for the road conditions
Unfortunately, some seniors do not recognize when their skills are slipping. They may get into an accident before they fully appreciate how much their driving abilities have declined.
The first step in improving your abilities is always recognizing your deficiencies. Be mindful of how you act behind the wheel. Ask family and friends what they think of your driving or if it has changed as the years go on.
Senior Drivers in British Columbia
Drivers who are 80 years old and older must be assessed by a medical professional to ensure that they are physically and mentally capable of driving safely. This assessment should take place every two years, and the medical report should be submitted to RoadSafetyBC.
The examination will consider your vision and medical history. It may set out specific restrictions appropriate for your situation, such as requiring that you use your fitted prosthesis or leg brace. You may have other restrictions as well, including limiting speeds or items that you can transport.
Steps You Can Take to Keep Your Skills Sharp
You know that declining skills can make you dangerous behind the wheel. Take extra precautions and engage in the following exercises to keep your driving skills up to par.
- Refresh Your Driving Skills
Everyone can use a refresher now and then. You can stop by any driver licensing office to pick up helpful resources and materials to review the rules of the road. Doing this will also ensure that you are up to date on any changes in your area.
- Keep Up With Changes in Your Vision or Hearing
Being able to see and hear properly is absolutely vital behind the wheel. Be sure that you get your vision and hearing checked regularly and address any issues before they become a significant problem. It can be scary to be unable to see or hear while driving, which can affect your confidence levels as well.
- Keep Cognitive Skills Active
The ability to react quickly to new situations is an important part of driving safely. You need to be able to handle emergency situations behind the wheel effectively. You can practice quick decision making at home with strategy games and games that test your reaction time. “Brain games” keep your cognitive skills high and may even decrease the likelihood that you are diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease.
- Focus on Fitness and Balance
Regular exercise can increase balance and coordination, and you may be surprised how much you use these skills while you drive. Training can also ensure that your body stays nimble enough to move your feet from pedal to pedal or turn your head to see behind you to back up. Do not overlook the importance of regular exercise for every aspect of your life.
Getting Trusted Representation After an Accident
If you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident, you may have legal options to obtain compensation for your losses. Our team at Diamond and Diamond can evaluate your potential case completely free of charge. Call our 24/7 injury hotline at 1-800-567-HURT or visit our website to speak to someone now about your claim.