Driver Safety Tips

163642640For most of us, driving represents independence and the ability to stay connected to friend, family, and a community. When we can drive, we determine our own schedule and destination.

Although abilities relating to driving—such as vision, memory, physical strength, reaction time, and flexibility—may decline as we age, the rate of change varies greatly from person to person.

The good news is, there’s plenty of room to compensate for the natural changes that occur with aging. We can minimize our risk on the road through physical conditioning, travel planning, defensive driving, and choosing or outfitting a vehicle appropriately.


Tips for all drivers;

  • Time your trip for daylight driving, avoiding rush-hour traffic.
  • Choose routes with well-marked, well-lit streets and easy-to-reach parking places.
  • Note landmarks and exits that will help you navigate.
  • Sit up straight and always adjust your seat and mirrors for best visibility.
  • Drive at the posted speed limit. If you must drive more slowly, stay in the right lane.
  • In good weather, leave at least three seconds of space between you and the car ahead of you. In bad weather, double your following distance.
  • Use turn signals to help other drivers plan for your actions. Remember to cancel the signal if it doesn’t automatically shut itself off.
  • Take a break after every 90 minutes of driving. Get out of the vehicle and stretch to help relieve stiffness and fatigue.

Tips for seniors;

  • Check your vision regularly
  • Take a driving refresher course for senior drivers
  • Attend a CarFit event in your area and work with a trained professional to complete the 12-point CarFit checklist.
  • Avoid driving in poor weather and when visibility is limited
  • Plan your route ahead of time
  • Limit left-hand turns
  • Explore alternatives to driving before the need arises
  • Avoid busy highways

Motorcycle Safety

With over 6.2 million registered motorcyclists nationally, riders are 37 times more likely to die in an accident than motorists, and 8 times more likely to be injured (NHTSA, 2006). This means motorcycle accidents are generally fatal. The best protections for riders are helmets (required for all riders in VA), gloves, sturdy jackets and pants, protective eyewear, and boots to cover the ankles. A detailed description can be found on DMV’s website.

Seniors need to be extra cautious when riding a motorcycle. As people age, health and physical issues may add to the safety factors. Some include:

  • Strength needed to pick up and hold up a motorcycle becomes an issue.
  • More endurance is needed to ride longer distances
  • Impaired night vision limits riding to day hours
  • Arthritis can reduce agility in shifting and steering around obstacles.

Suggestions to compensate for these impairments are:

  • Lighter weight motorcycle
  • Lower height motorcycle
  • Convert to three-wheeler
  • Better seating and upright seating
  • Take more breaks during trips
  • Drive during daytime hours
  • Drive more cautiously, slower
  • Drive in clear weather conditions
  • Get your eyes checked regularly