Driving means freedom to a lot of us. We get from place to place, such as school or work; doctors or friends. It’s how we get the things we need. Driving helps us stay social.
Have you thought about what you to do when you can no longer drive? As we get older, things can change. We react more slowly than before. Can we still reach over our shoulders to grab the seatbelt? Is it hard to click it into place? New or changing medicines may impact our driving.
20% of licensed drivers in the U.S. are over 65. Between 2011 and 2020, the U.S. number of people 65 and older grew by 35%. Older drivers are 573% more likely to die in a crash than someone younger than 65. In 2019, 50 older drivers were involved in crashes in Nebraska. That is about 20% of deadly crashes that year.
Here are some helpful tips for driving:
- The best thing you can do when you are driving is wear your seatbelt. Wear it no matter how far you are driving.
- Make sure that each person in your car is wearing a seatbelt. Even people riding in the back should do so.
- Do not drive without insurance coverage.
- Make sure you are not driving impaired. Check with your doctor or pharmacist about medicines you are taking. Ask them how it may change your driving.
- Is there a time of day that you are often tired? If you enjoy a nap in the afternoon, make your appointments in the morning. Be home before times you are sleepy.
- Meet with friends and family during daylight hours. Most crashes happen between 3pm and 6pm. Think about sunrise and sunset, and how the glare may impact your trip.
- Make sure you are staying mobile. Can you still get in and out of the car? Can you grab and buckle your seatbelt. Can you look over your shoulder to check your blind spots? Are you likely to sit up straight enough to see over the steering wheel and see all your mirrors?
- Make sure you know how your car works – before you drive. Cars can do a lot of helpful things. You don’t want to figure them out as you are driving.
- Make sure you are getting your eyes checked each year. Think about prescription sunglasses.
- Know your route before you go. Make sure you have looked at a map, or programed it into your GPS. Have your car dealership help you link your phone to your car. Keep your phone tucked away so you don’t use it while you are driving.
Make sure you can get all the things you need (such as groceries, church, errands, and seeing friends). How will you get them when you can no longer drive? Use the My Mobility Planning tool, found here: https://www.cdc.gov/transportationsafety/older_adult_drivers/mymobility/. Build a plan so when it is time, you can make your own decision, safely.
Use this to see where you are right now, and learn what changes to watch for. https://www.nhtsa.gov/older-drivers/driving-safely-while-aging-gracefully
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