How Senior Drivers Can Protect Everyone On The Road

Nov 6, 2019, 1:08 PM

Everyone needs to drive safely, but it may be a bigger challenge for older drivers.

When I got my driver’s license at 16, I remember a feeling of freedom. It would be a while before I owned a car, but now at least I had the opportunity to go where I wanted when I wanted. It’s a feeling you never want to give up — even when where you’re going is just to work, school, or the grocery store.

But there’s a responsibility that comes with driving: being safe on the road. Paying attention to traffic signals, other drivers, bike riders, and pedestrians is a necessity. So is not driving while under the influence of alcohol. And eventually, as you get older, you may have difficulty driving.

The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that there were 42 million licensed drivers age 65 or older in 2016, approximately 20% of all drivers in the U.S. Even if you’re nowhere near that age group yourself, you probably know someone who is an older driver — or you’re at risk from an elderly driver who’s not as good behind the wheel as he or she used to be.

Senior Driver Safety

How can you help people in your family and your community stay safe while still giving older drivers the opportunity to have the freedom to drive where they want, or at least where they need to? Some preparation before driving is key.

According to the National Institute on Aging, older drivers should:

  • Drive to places you’re familiar with. You probably drive to the grocery store or the office the same way every week. If you do need to go somewhere different, create a street-by-street route on your phone or even write it down on a piece of paper ahead of time.
  • Take someone with you on your trips, if possible.
  • Avoid stressful driving situations, like night driving, while you’re tired, or when the road is covered in snow or rain.

The guidelines you follow to stay healthy apply to you while you’re driving also:

  • Talk to your doctor about the medications you’re taking to make sure you have the proper dosage and that you’re taking them at the right time.
  • Have your eyes and ears checked at least once a year. If you need glasses, contacts, and/or hearing aids, use them whenever you are behind the wheel.
  • Make sure you and your passengers are buckled up and you’re not driving impaired by alcohol or other drugs.

Our Hastings Mutual auto insurance specialists suggest taking a defensive driving course, with information on how to reduce distractions while driving, rules for driving in special situations like construction zones, and more. There are several defensive driving courses to choose from, in a classroom setting or online. I might take one — I haven’t been tested on my road-handling skills since I was 16!

If you’re interested, your independent insurance agent can help you find an approved defensive driving course. For more on vehicle coverage for you and your family, also ask your agent about Hastings Mutual personal auto insurance.

The Mutual Understanding blog and Hastings Mutual videos are made available for educational purposes only. The information referred to is not an official company statement, corporate policy, or offer of coverage. Refer to your insurance policy for specific coverage. There is no representation as to the accuracy or completeness of any information found by following any link on this site. Please contact your local independent insurance agent with further questions and for more details on any insurance policy-related information you read here.

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