June is National Safety Month, which spans a variety of categories but top on our list is bringing awareness to safety on the road. This is especially important to remember as we get older and our reflexes and eyesight are not as sharp as they once were.
In an ideal world, we would all have a dedicated driver but the reality is that most of us don’t have that luxury; and for many others, public transportation is not a reliable or accessible mode of transportation either. So in the absence of friends or family who might be available and better suited to drive us, we still need to be on the road ourselves.
Driving can be dangerous even if you were the world’s best driver and in the best health. You cannot predict how others will behave on the road, nor the weather conditions that can affect your safety on the road. Your only real defense is to make sure that you are as aware and cognizant as possible. Here are our top tips to maximizing your safety as a driver.
1. Above all else, be honest with yourself. There will come a time when driving is a bigger hazard than it is a convenience. If you simply do not feel comfortable or capable of driving anymore, you shouldn’t. Convenient or not, it is always better to be safe than sorry. Finding alternative modes of transportation (buses, friends, taxis) may take some coordination, but it is possible. Not to mention, it will save you the anxiety and stress of being on the road when you know you shouldn’t.
2. Get (re)tested. Make an appointment to get your driving skills checked by a driving rehabilitation specialist, occupational therapist or other trained professional. If you aren’t sure how capable you are anymore, allow someone else to give you a professional and unbiased opinion.
3. Take a defensive driving class. It never hurts to refresh your defensive skills on the road. If that weren’t benefit enough, many insurance companies will actually lower your bill if/when you pass this type of class!
4. Ask your doctor. Check in with your doctor – including your eye doctor – about any health issues or medications that might make it unsafe for you to drive. Together, you can make a plan to help keep you on the road safely.
Inter Valley Health Plan hosts classes regularly on health and vitality for older adults. For a full list of classes in your area, please visit forhealthandliving.com/ivhpevents