The Car

12 Safe Driving Precautions for Seniors

Cindy Davis
Written by Cindy Davis

Simple changes older drivers can make to extend their driving independence.

Motor vehicle injuries persist as the leading cause of injury-related deaths among 65- to 74-year-olds and are the second leading cause (after falls) among 75- to 84-year-olds.

Before you hang up your keys, you may want to consider implementing one or more of these common self-imposed safe driving precautions to extend your driving independence.  This is not an exhaustive list and items are in no particular order of importance.  It’s just a good place to start. 

  1. Stick to familiar routes on surface streets in your immediate neighborhood.
  2. Plan your trip before you get behind the wheel to ensure it’s the safest possible path along well-lit streets, through intersections with left-turn signals, and offers easy parking spaces.
  3. Travel in daylight hours and avoid driving at night, when possible.
  4. Avoid complicated intersections, freeways, rush hour traffic, and driving in bad weather.
  5. Skip driving distractions, among others – listening to loud radio, talking and texting on the phone, or eating.
  6. Clean your car windows, mirrors, and headlights to maximize visibility and adjust mirrors to eliminate or minimize your blind spot.  
  7. Make sure the driver’s seat is high enough to see at least 10 feet in front of the vehicle and you sit 10 inches from the steering wheel to avoid the risk of being injured by airbags.
  8. Always fasten your seat belt and wear your glasses or contacts.
  9. Maintain a safe distance between you and the car ahead of you and constantly scan roadway to anticipate potential problems and plan your evasive moves.
  10. Complete regularly scheduled vehicle maintenance and make sure you have sufficient gas to prevent accidents and breakdowns.
  11. Don’t drink, or take medications that make you drowsy, and drive.
  12. Every time you drive, bring your cell phone so you can call for directions, get emergency assistance, or your family and friends can track down your location when you haven’t returned at the expected time.

To determine which may be the most helpful given your current condition, please consult your doctor.

About the author

Cindy Davis

Cindy Davis

Serial entrepreneur and former full-time caregiver for eight years to her father with multiple chronic conditions. A graduate of Dartmouth College with a Bachelor of Arts in Pre-Medicine and Asian Studies; and a Master of Business Administration degree recipient in marketing and finance from UCLA Anderson Graduate School of Management. Currently lives in Dallas, Texas with her teenage son and advises businesses on strategic planning, marketing, finance, and operations as owner of Next Level Consulting, Inc.

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