Mature Drivers need Self Awareness

January 27, 2018

Mature Drivers need Self Awareness

Self awareness is an important tool in helping determine whether or not a mature driver is posing a risk to himself/herself or others when behind the wheel. Seniors who can accurately assess the level of their driving skills and abilities should also be able to accurately determine whether or not they are driving safely or would benefit from a mature driving class or should consider an alternative mode of transportation.

The length of time that a senior can have mobility by driving, can be extended through mature-driver training such as Canada Safety Council’s 55 Alive: Driver Refresher Course. Independence through driving can continue to be a viable and safe option for many seniors, with certain adjustments both to the car and with the senior’s driving habits. Driving qualities that mature drivers must assess are: vision, physical strength and agility, alertness and reflexes.

Good vision is a major factor when minimizing risk. It is recommended to avoid driving at dawn, dusk and night time. This is a time when it is difficult to clearly see pedestrians, lane lines or other important traffic signs or markings. The glare from oncoming headlights is also a challenge for drivers but especially if you experience light-sensitivity. Your car panel should offer large, easy-to-read indicators and symbols. Seniors must wear visual sun protection on sunny days and must also always wear their prescription glasses for the best possible safe, driving experience. Keep up with your eye examinations and visit an eye-doctor annually.

Good physical strength and agility contribute to safe driving. This would enhance the capacity to shoulder check when changing lanes or look both ways for traffic at intersections. The movement required for using the foot pedals or turning the steering wheel also requires fitness and agility. It is possible to improve your strength and agility through exercise. It is also possible to improve visibility with mirror adjustments. A senior should choose a car with automatic transmission, power brakes and power steering.

Good alertness and reflexes contribute to proper attention and reaction while driving. Driving involves multi-tasking and your attention is divided into many priorities. It helps to drive on familiar streets and keep a safe distance between you and the car ahead. Pay special attention at intersections and try to make left turns at intersections that provide a green arrow advancement signal. Scan the road ahead continuously and avoid rush hour traffic. It is also recommended to avoid driving when weather conditions are challenging such as a winter snowstorm or heavy rain. It helps to keep alert if you limit passenger conversation in the car and keep your radio off. A car window should be opened slightly in order to hear emergency sirens. Know the side-effects of your medication as they may influence your reflexes and capacity to drive.

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