Safety Tips for Older Drivers
Senior drivers are regularly subjected to scrutiny from other road users due to a perceived inability to be able to drive safely.
Many senior drivers are cautious and safe drivers but some do leave themselves open to a higher risk of being involved in a crash. This is due to a few key elements that may need addressing.
a). They lack confidence in their driving
b). They are not up to date with current road rules
c). They are not paying full attention to their surroundings – they are on auto pilot as they go about their daily routines.
I am sure many drivers would have witnessed a ‘senior moment’.
Stopping for a green light (but the turning arrow was red), turning the wrong way down a one way road, stopping in the middle of roundabouts to give way to traffic entering, illegal U turns, travelling 10 -20kph under the speed limits and many more! (feel free to post in comments below if you have witnessed other hazardous driving behaviours!)
Some seniors may have experienced excessive tailgating, abusive hand signals and horns blasted at them as other drivers try to get around these perceived ‘hazards on the road’.
So what can you do, as a senior driver, to ensure that you are still safe in your car as you go about your business each day?
- When was the last time that you updated your road rule knowledge? Did you get your licence in the state that you are now driving in? Check out the latest updates to QLD road rules HERE
- Do you regularly have younger passengers who gasp at your driving? Do they shout out when they see a hazard that you haven’t? Perhaps a professional assessment would assist in boosting your confidence!
- If you can, avoid heavy traffic situations as you go to various appointments, shopping and visiting. The same route you have been taking for years may now be much more hazardous so look for alternate roads that are less busy.
- Avoid Distractions! You need to have your full attention on the task at hand – driving! Avoid even using your phone on hands free as a conversation will take your attention from the road. Ensure that your mirrors, radio and air conditioning are set before you begin driving – keeping both hands on the wheel will give you better control for the unexpected!
- Share the road – but drive defensively. Be looking up and ahead, be aware of cyclists and other road users by checking your mirrors and over your shoulders at those ‘blind spots’ before moving lanes or turning into roads. If you cannot drive to the higher speed limits, perhaps use service roads instead so that you are not a hazard in a high speed situation – or, get some professional training to build your confidence in this area as well.
You are never too old to improve your driving skills.
If your doctor is ok with you driving but you are feeling intimidated by other road users, look at getting some professional lessons/ refreshers to make your driving as enjoyable as it once was.
**Note: this article has been written due to enquiries from older drivers who have had their licence for a long time but do not have the confidence to travel in heavy traffic or use the motorways. Some have even spoken to me about being ‘bullied’ on the roads when they are doing the speed limit.