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How to assess your driving ability as you age

On Behalf of | Aug 28, 2023 | Car Accidents |

Most Americans learn to drive in their late teens. In Illinois, you can get a driver’s license at age 16. As these people age, they gather experience. They also become aware of the hazards of the road and they learn how to drive safely.

However, as people age, it is common to forget that their body is ageing. Vision, physical fitness and reaction times are factors that are closely associated with driving ability. With age, all three can become weaker, and that is fairly normal.

Assessing yourself

If someone can assess vision, fitness, and reflexes accurately, that person can adjust the driving habits to remain a safe driver. So, how does the assessment work?

  • Vision: Are there any problems reading road signs? Is there trouble seeing pavements, curbs, or medians? Do you sometimes fail to notice other vehicles or pedestrians? Is there more discomfort when driving at night?
  • Fitness: Do your neck and shoulder feel rigid while looking left or right? Do your hands and feet move smoothly on the pedals and the steering wheel? Do you feel pain in the joints while driving? Do you walk negligible distances per day?
  • Reflexes: Are you overwhelmed on streets with lots of signs, signals, traffic and people? Is there a lack of confidence in judging gaps, speeds and distances or handling heavy traffic? Or are you taking medication that can slow reflexes?

What can you do about it?

If you answer “Yes” to even some of the questions, there are some immediate steps that you need to take. Some steps are simple but others may require time and effort, medical intervention or an investment, or even certain lifestyle changes.

Here are some basic steps to take.

  • Vision: Wear glasses or lenses, as required; avoid sunglasses in low light. Keep windshields, windows and mirrors clean. Adjust headlights for the right aim. Sit as high as possible for a clearer view of the road. Do not hesitate to see a doctor.
  • Fitness: Do stretching exercises for increased flexibility. Adjust some driving habits. Go for an automatic car with power steering and power brakes. Make use of light- and sound-based alerts. If there’s any pain or discomfort, see a doctor.
  • Reflexes: Plan your route based on road and traffic conditions. Keep emergency phone numbers handy. Be cautious when scanning the road at turns and intersections. Avoid conversations while driving.

Remember to watch out for changes

As mentioned earlier, people forget how age can impact driving ability. Therefore, it is important to watch out for signs that indicate any change. Some signs could be as follows:

  • There have been several traffic violations in the past few years.
  • A friend or a relative showed concern about your driving ability.
  • You sometimes get confused while driving on familiar routes.
  • The doctor recently advised you to avoid or stop driving.

It is important to read these signs and take necessary action. That includes understanding what these signs mean and then looking for the right remedy.

Transportation alternatives in Quincy

If, for whatever reasons, a person is unable to continue to drive safely, it is best to look for alternative modes of transportation. In a place like Quincy, that would mean buses and cabs, which means, every once in a while, there is the need to drive.

For that, remember to assess yourself, take the necessary preventive and corrective steps and drive safely. If there’s an accident even after all the precaution and it can be proved that you were driving safely, there are laws in place that can protect you.