There are a number of lifestyle adjustments that can promote safer driving for you or an older adult you know.
The following recommendations are important for everyone, including older adults.
- Seat belts save lives. Buckle up before starting the car. A shoulder pad that slips over the belt can make it more comfortable.
- Do not talk, text, or eat while driving. These actions can make it impossible for the driver to pay attention to the road.
- Do not drink and drive. Even one alcoholic drink may make a person unsafe. Some medications can make the problem even worse.
- Limit distractions. Listening to music or audio books or even chatting with passengers can cause some older drivers to lose their attention to the road.
- Watch the road. Make sure there is always enough space between cars.
- Drive during daylight as much as possible. Older adults, even those with good vision, can have problems seeing at night. Glare from oncoming headlights is one example of nighttime issues.
- Avoid bad weather. Rain, snow, fog, and other types of weather can cause problems. Let the bad weather clear before driving.
- Choose safer routes. Try to avoid highways that have ramps that require merging into traffic at high speeds. Avoid busy roads that require left turns.
- Try to drive when there’s less traffic. Avoid rush hour traffic, which can stress everyone.
- Avoid being stressed or tired. Driving when well-rested and calm.
- Consult a driving rehabilitation specialist. These professionals test older drivers for:
- Physical abilities
- Coordination and reaction time
- Ability to drive with aids that adapt the vehicle to the person's needs
You can find a specialist here.
CarFit is an educational program sponsored by AAA, AARP Driver Safety, and the American Occupational Therapy Association. Experts help older drivers make sure their car is adjusted for safety.
A CarFit exam takes about 20 minutes to complete.
New technologies can help make cars safer for older drivers. Recently, the American Automobile Association (AAA) and the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) looked at 16 technologies.
Six of these technology features reduced accidents and older drivers’ stress:
- Forward collision warning system. These systems warn when a car is about to crashso the car can automatically uses the brakes. This technology can improve reaction times and reduce crashes by up to 20 percent.
- Automatic crash notification. The car signals emergency services that the car has been in a crash. A call to 911 isn’t needed.
- Parking assist with rear-view display. Back-up cameras allow drivers to clearly see what’s behind them as they back up. This makes parking easier.
- Obstacle-detection warning systems. These systems signal if a car is about to hit something.
- Self-parking systems. This technology takes over steering while the car parallel parks itself.
- Navigation assistance. GPS systems make older drivers feel safer, more confident, and more relaxed while driving. However, some of these systems can be hard to use. Choose one that is easy.
Last Updated March 2023