Safe Driving for Seniors

Thursday, November 13, 2014

alberta-senior-driverFor many mature Albertans, maintaining a driver’s licence is more than just a matter of convenience—it’s an issue of independence. As we age, our bodies change in ways that can affect our ability to drive safely. The most common challenges mature drivers face include deteriorating vision and depth perception, hearing loss, slow reflexes due to movement-limiting disabilities like arthritis, and side effects from prescription medication.

In honour of National Senior Safety Week (November 6 - 12), we’re urging all mature drivers in Alberta to be mindful of any changes your bodies might be going through that could affect your driving.

Here are four things you can do to make sure you stay safe behind the wheel:

Be a proactive senior driver

For your sake and for the safety of others, it is important to recognize and accommodate any changes to your body. If you’ve noticed your vision blurring, for example, schedule an appointment with your eye doctor to ensure your eyeglass prescription is up to date. If your grip on the steering wheel has loosened, it may be due to arthritis, and you need to seek treatment. While these changes are a normal part of aging, it’s critical that you address them so they don’t affect your driving.

Check your medications before driving

According to the Canadian Safety Council, older drivers are likely to be taking more than one medication at a time. If you’re a senior driver and you are taking several medications, consult your doctor to find out if the combination of these medications could result in any side effects that may impair your ability to drive.

If more than one doctor has prescribed medication for you, make sure each doctor knows about all the medications you are taking. That way, they can avoid prescribing medication that in combination with your other prescriptions could produce unexpected side effects or a bad reaction.

Take a refresher course for senior drivers

If you’re a mature driver looking to brush up your skills, you can take the Driver 55 Plus senior driver refresher course offered by the Alberta Motor Association. The course covers:

  • Aging and its impact on driving
  • The changing nature of driving
  • Collision avoidance tips
  • Strategies to help in different driving environments
  • Current road rules and regulations

Do an in-vehicle evaluation for senior drivers

The Alberta Motor Association also offers a senior in-vehicle evaluation. The evaluation assesses your driving skills on specially designed routes in Edmonton, Calgary, Red Deer, Lethbridge or Medicine Hat.3 The results of your evaluation remain confidential and can help you stay safe while you’re on the road. You’ll get a recommendation for “next steps” so you’ll know what driving skills you should be focusing on.

With driving comes the responsibility to ensure your safety as well as the safety of others. If you are a senior driver, check in with your health and brush up on your driving skills to help keep Alberta’s roads safe.

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