Many seniors are far better drivers than younger people, despite that stereotype of the short, grey-haired senior wearing glasses and squinting to see if the light ahead is green or not. It’s not an age thing. It is more about skills and abilities. But many seniors dread the day when they could lose their license. It can mean the difference between independence, or shudder—public transit!
It’s important to keep safe driving practices in mind if you’re a senior. It’s never too late to learn about road safety or techniques to prevent accidents.
Improve Your Driving Skills
The road rules are constantly changing, so it’s essential to stay ahead of the changes. You can update your knowledge by visiting your local drivers’ license office. Here they’ll have brochures on how to stay safe while driving, and all the latest information for drivers. You can also check online websites and take the online driving test to see how knowledgeable you are.
Maintain Your Health
It’s important to have your yearly checkups to ensure that you’re healthy. Get an eye exam to check and be sure that your eyeglasses or your contact lenses prescription is accurate. It’s also important to remember to wear your glasses or contact lenses when driving.
If you do have any health issues, your physician will assist you in maintaining them. You may wish to let them know that you are still driving, so you can avoid taking any medications that may make you dizzy or blur your vision.
Depending on which state you live in, you may be required to take a new driving test or present a health check-up report once you have reached an advanced age. These rules are aggravating, but this is to ensure that you are still capable of driving and obeying all the road rules.
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Maintain Your Vehicle
Even if you think that your vehicle only has a few more years in it, you should still take it for yearly maintenance. Good maintenance ensures that you are safe on the road. You also want to ensure that the tires are always good, and especially that the brakes won’t fail when you need them the most. The tires should be inflated adequately so they function well and provide for good steering.
There are also simple things you can do to maintain your car that cost little money. You should always keep your windshields clean so that you can maintain good visibility. You should replace your wiper blades at least once a year.
Other items that should be checked include headlights, brake lights, and turn signal lights. Check the oil levels and replace as needed.
Most new vehicles have the latest tech installed in their cars, GPS, rear and forward facing cameras, and oversized rear view mirrors. If you drive an older car, it may be a good idea to get these installed. It can be a good idea to buy these at a discount auto store and have them installed by your local, trusted mechanic.
If you have been driving safely for many years, you may qualify for a discount on your insurance premiums. If you’re not already benefitting from this discount, ask them how it can be applied.
What If I Have to Re-Take My Exam Road Test?
There are many reasons why you may need to re-take a road test.
• You may have a medical condition that can affect how you drive.
• If you’ve ever been in an accident and the police report says that you need to be re-tested.
• If you’ve reached a specific age, such as 85, you may need to prove you can still safely drive, by taking a re-test.
• You may also need to be re-tested if your license has expired, been canceled, or been suspended at any point for more than three years, or whatever is valid in your state.
Your road safety test will take about 90 minutes or longer if you live in a major city. You’ll have to do written traffic signs, and road signals test too. If the drivers’ license office in your region has been the one requesting the re-examination, there should be no charge.
If you haven’t been driving for some time, it is essential to get back on the road and practice. If you currently have no license, you’ll need to apply for a learners’ permit and take the written exam. You must have another driver in the car with you. You may wish to sign up for some driving refresher courses. These are beneficial for everyone, as often people develop some bad habits on the road.
You can go online and view sample road safety quizzes to help you pass that portion of the test. You can also find out what is expected of you. If you’re not confident in parallel parking, parking on a slope, or anything else, now is the time to practice.
How Do I Know When to Retire from Driving?
You’ll have to decide if retiring from driving is right for you. You may get little money on your vehicle, but you can always put it toward buying a transit pass. You’ll have to decide how accessible public transit is for you, and will you still be able to get to appointments or buy your groceries if you don’t have a car?
Many cities, I know my town does, have a senior bus service. For a small fee, these buses will come and pick you up and take you to the doctor or shopping. If you let them know what time, they will come and pick you up.
Even though relatives and friends may offer to drive you around, the truth is that it will soon become a burden for them, as they have their own lives to live too. If you do retire your license, you’ll need to apply for your state’s equivalent that can be used for valid ID. You may still be able to get some of your groceries or your pharmaceuticals delivered for free or pay a minimal fee for the delivery service.
Get Out There and Drive!
Always remember to take your time on the road and don’t let other drivers rush you. Pull into the right-hand lane, if you must. If you’re ever uncertain about a road sign, then look it up later. And that old rule is always applicable no matter your age—if you feel unwell, don’t get behind the wheel! That may be the day to take the local public transit.
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