Most seniors love the independence that driving offers, but as age catches up with them, their motor skills and reactions on the roads are likely to decline. So what are some of the steps senior drivers can take to stay safe on the road?
As an older driver, your response time, dexterity and speed are not the same as when you were younger. The deterioration of your senses, such as hearing and vision, doesn’t make it any easier. Compounding these issue are ever-changing traffic conditions and other road users.
In Singapore, drivers aged 65 years and above must be certified medically and physically fit by a registered medical practitioner before their driving licences can be renewed. Even if a driver has been certified fit to continue driving, he may be advised to go for a refresher driving course. This course aims help the senior brush up his driving skills, improve his confidence, and show him ways to handle road and traffic situations more effectively and responsibly.
As a senior driver, you can take charge of your driving to keep yourself and other road users safe. Always be up to date with taking daily medications, and be careful with those that may cause drowsiness or impair your physical being, such as giving you blurry vision. Get your doctor to advise on the timing of the medications and make sure pairing them with certain food or drink will not affect your driving ability. If any medical issues crop up, don’t delay discussing it with a doctor before they cause any problems — especially while you are driving!
Beware of the pitfalls of nighttime driving. A significant number of older drivers may fare pretty well during the day, but their vision is drastically compromised after sunset — it may get harder to focus on the road, differentiating objects on the road becomes more challenging, while the risk of glare from oncoming headlights also compounds the problem. If this is you, avoid driving at night.
Fatigue may catch you unawares when you are older, so it helps to keep your journeys short. Try not to cram too many appointments into a day. Plan your trips beforehand so there are no unwanted surprises, and give yourself enough time to get to where you are going. If you need to go on a long journey, get a fellow driver to take turns at the wheel with you, or have someone you trust ride with you so he or she can keep an eye out for you. Get plenty of rest between journeys so that your body is recharged before you get off again.
Driving at a safe speed to the conditions of the road which you are travelling and give yourself more space between you and the car in front. This gives you more time to react should the car in front suddenly brake. If there’s rain, give yourself even more allowance with the car in front. The weather can impair vision and make it harder for you to see, so that additional space helps. If the rain gets too heavy and you are not confident to drive on, try and get off the road as soon as possible and look for a rest spot to tide over the weather.
Empower yourself with modern car technology to aid in your driving. Additional safety features such as rear-view cameras, blindspot monitoring systems, and other audio or visual alert systems can be your extra eyes and ears. That being said, don’t go overboard with these either, as these gadgets can be overwhelming. Install only what you feel helps you be a more effective driver, or helps you in areas you are not comfortable in, such as parking in tight areas.
In most cases, it is a matter of adjusting your driving pattern to suit your ability and confidence. You must prepare yourself for the day when you have to acknowledge that the time has come to stop driving altogether. Safety should always be your top priority.
EXTRA PROTECTION FROM AAS-IA
AA Singapore’s subsidiary, AAS Insurance Agency (AAS-IA), has an insurance policy that’s tailor-made for senior drivers. Jointly created with AAS-IA’s strategic partner Liberty Insurance, this insurance product, known as AA Senior Motor Plus, is targeted at people with 30 or more years of driving experience. For more information, click here.