Summary: Some adult children worry when their parents keep driving into old age. These safe driving tips offer ways to be aware of your abilities and focus on safety.
Health and aging can affect your ability to drive safely, notes the Mayo Clinic. But understanding your possible limitations may help you stay behind the wheel longer.
Here are safe driving tips to keep in mind to help you keep yourself and others safe on the road for years to come.
Safe driving tips: your health and driver safety
One important safe driving tip for older adults is to stay healthy and manage any medical issues that could affect your driving. That’s according to the automotive organization AAA.
Here are other safe driving tips for staying healthy on the road, according to the Mayo Clinic:
- Get your vision checked regularly.
Your vision changes as you get older, so an important safe driving tip is to get your vision checked at least once a year. This also gives your optometrist a chance to check for age-related conditions like cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration.
- Schedule regular hearing exams.
Hearing loss can happen as you get older, making it harder to hear and respond to emergency vehicles, police sirens, and approaching trains while driving. So, especially if you’re having trouble hearing, a safe driving tip is to ask your doctor about getting your hearing tested.
- Know how your conditions and medications affect your driving.
One of the most important safe driving tips is to talk to your doctor about how your conditions and prescription drugs could affect your driving. For example, certain medications may have side effects that impair your alertness or reflexes. Conditions like diabetes, arthritis, and dementia can all affect your driving ability.
Safe driving tips when you’re on the road
- Choose the right car.
Another safe driving tip is to consider getting a car with driver-assistance options, notes AAA. Many cars today offer features like blind spot detectors or warning systems that alert you when a crash may occur. Some cars have partial self-driving features that help you maintain a constant speed or change lanes.
Interior features can help your limitations, too. For example, a thicker steering wheel is easier to hold and turn if you have arthritis, and a large, easy-to-read dashboard may help if you have vision issues.
- Drive in optimal conditions.
An important safe driving tip from the Mayo Clinic is to know when to drive to lower your risk of getting into an accident. If possible, schedule appointments and errands for the daytime when the roads are well lit and you’re alert and awake.
Another safe driving tip from the Mayo Clinic is to make sure your cell phone or GPS is mounted to your car in an easy-to-see spot, so you don’t have to take your eyes off the road.
- Take a driver renewal course.
Taking a driving refresher course is another safe driving tip for seniors. Both the AARP and AAA offer online classes, or you can find an in-person course near you.
- Another safe driving tip is to get your car assessed by a program like CarFit. Trained volunteers and occupational therapists will check your car’s mirrors, line-of-sight above the wheel, and more. You can find information on the AAA and AARP websites.
- Know when it’s time to hand in your keys.
There may be a time when you’re no longer able to drive safely, according to the Mayo Clinic. If you’re starting to have more near-accidents or loved ones are concerned, a safe driving tip is to get a formal driving assessment.
If you decide it’s time to stop driving altogether, know that it doesn’t have to mean giving up your independence. Read on for more safe driving tips and transportation alternatives.
Safe driving tips: other transportation options
If you no longer think you can drive safely, AAA reminds us, you have other options:
- Ask a family member, friend, or caregiver for a ride.
- Look up carpool services in your area.
- Take public transportation.
- Use a ridesharing service like Uber or Lyft.
- Find local transportation services, many of which are low cost.
Another safe driving tip is to check if your Medicare Advantage plan covers non-medical transportation. New Medicare rules give Medicare Advantage plans more flexibility in their benefits, and some may now offer transportation for non-medical needs like grocery shopping. Contact your plan to find out if it offers this benefit.
Safe driving tips: what Medicare covers
One great safe driving tip is to take advantage of all that Medicare offers when it comes to keeping you healthy and safe on the road.
The annual “Wellness” visit is a good time to check in every year with your doctor about your overall health and any new issues that could affect your driving.
You may want to get your vision and hearing checked regularly. While Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) doesn’t cover routine vision and hearing, you might be able to get these services through a Medicare Advantage plan. Plans may offer coverage for glasses, contacts, hearing exams, hearing aids, and more. Different Medicare Advantage plans may have different extra benefits.
Medicare may cover cataract surgery, as well as vision screenings for glaucoma and macular degeneration if you meet eligibility criteria. A key safe driving tip is to let your doctor know right away if you’re having vision issues.
Safe driving tips: finding Medicare plan options
Staying healthy is one of the biggest factors in driving safely, and it’s important to have coverage that fits your needs and keeps you safe on the road as you get older. You can find Medicare plan options right now by entering your zip code into the plan finder tool.