Driving in Your Golden Years – Tips for Senior Drivers

Seniors driving

It’s normal for driving capabilities to change as we get older, and although there are lots of seniors without keys, that doesn’t necessarily mean everyone over a certain age should cease to drive ever again.

As long as you’re aware of what to look out for, prepare, and avoid, then you can enjoy having your own four wheels for many years to come.

How does age affect driving?

Everyone ages differently, so there is no set cut-off when it comes to driving. But that means it’s crucial to understand (and be aware of) your health conditions, because they might just impact your driving capabilities. 

  • Age can have varying effects on driving abilities.
  • Factors such as decreased vision and impaired hearing may impact driving skills.
  • Slower motor reflexes can affect response time while driving.
  • Worsening health conditions can potentially hinder driving capabilities.
  •  It is important to stay informed about personal health conditions.
  • Regular consultation with a healthcare provider is advisable for guidance and advice regarding driving capabilities.

A recent law passed in August 2022 whereby all Queensland drivers aged 75 years and over are required to carry a valid medical certificate to grant the ability to drive a motor vehicle. 

Without this medical certificate, you could face a fine or lose your licence. But how do you get one? Once you’ve had your 75th birthday you must continue to have annual medical assessments where your doctor will issue or reissue the certificate.

Safety tips

There are a multitude of obvious safety tips that have been ingrained into us for years:

  1. Regularly assess your health: Stay aware of any changes in your health that may impact your driving abilities. Regular check-ups with your healthcare provider can help you monitor conditions such as vision, hearing, and mobility.
  2. Stay updated on road rules: Laws and regulations may change over time. Stay informed about the latest road rules and traffic regulations to ensure you are driving safely and legally.
  3. Minimise distractions: Avoid distractions while driving, such as using mobile devices, eating, or adjusting controls. Keep your focus on the road at all times.
  4. Wear seat belts: Always wear your seat belt and ensure that all passengers in your vehicle are properly restrained. Seat belts save lives and reduce the risk of severe injuries in case of an accident.
  5. Maintain a safe following distance: Keep a safe distance between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead of you. This will give you enough time to react and brake if necessary.
  6.  Adjust driving habits to weather conditions: Be cautious when driving in adverse weather conditions such as rain, fog. Adjust your speed and driving style accordingly to maintain control of your vehicle.
  7. Use turn signals and mirrors effectively: Signal your intentions early and consistently when changing lanes or making turns. Regularly check your mirrors to be aware of your surroundings.
  8. Take breaks on long trips: If you’re planning a long journey, make sure to take breaks to rest and stretch. Fatigue can impair your driving abilities, so it’s important to stay alert and refreshed.
  9. Consider driving during daylight hours: If you have difficulties with vision, consider limiting your driving to daylight hours when visibility is better.
  10. Be mindful of medication side effects: Some medications can cause drowsiness or impair coordination. Read the labels of your medications and consult with your healthcare provider to understand any potential side effects that may affect your driving.

These are things we all know and respect, but attending a road safety course won’t hurt, especially if you want to brush up on your skills. 

Many of our Village residents have joined the RACQ Years Ahead Program with the intention of covering topics like recent changes to road rules, medical considerations when driving, and alternative transport options like motorised wheelchairs.

Ensuring Safe and Independent Driving in Your Golden Years

In conclusion, as we age, it’s important to understand how our driving abilities may change. By staying informed, taking necessary precautions, and seeking guidance when needed, senior drivers can continue to enjoy the freedom of driving in their golden years while prioritising safety for themselves and others on the road.

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