Cumberland Times-News

December 3, 2013

Be smart

Older drivers can be safe drivers: Here’s how


Cumberland Times-News

— As Baby Boomers continue to grow the ranks of senior citizens, the issue of older driver safety increases exponentially. This week, Older Driver Safety Awareness is being observed in Maryland and throughout the U.S.

According to Consumer Reports, 10,000 people in the U.S. turn 65 every day and many of them are still driving. But for some, health issues, a decrease in reflexes and alertness, and the ever-increasing traffic on highways put these seniors — and everyone else on the road — at risk.

The Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration urges older drivers to assess their health and driving ability as they consider whether to continue to stay behind the wheel.

Next year, AARP will launch a new program called the Smart Driver Course. In connection with the new program, the organization is offering the following tips to older drivers:

• Monitor your health. Be aware of any health changes such as vision, hearing, memory and concentration.  Keep up with regular checkups and exercise.

• Keep a safe driving distance. Use the three-second rule when following another car, so you have time to react to any potential hazards.

• Avoid distractions. Anything that takes your eyes off the road is a distraction and that includes cell phone use, eating, using a GPS, and adjusting the radio.

• Self-regulate. Avoid driving during rush hour, at night, or in challenging weather conditions. Keep running your errands and appointments, but try to choose daylight and less busy times to travel.

• Go right. Instead of making a left-hand turn, make three right turns instead to get to the same place instead of crossing traffic in a busy intersection.

• Don’t forget to stop. At stop signs, scan before proceeding and look for pavement markings. If you are behind another car, wait two seconds until they proceed through the sign before you move forward.

• Check your medicines. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if medications you are taking could have an affect on your driving.

• Be aware of others. Bikes, motorcycles, and pedestrians can add more challenges to driving.  Be extra vigilant in intersections and when merging.

• Keep a buffer. Have enough space around your vehicle so you have room to maneuver whether it is on the road or in a parking lot.

Following this advice may be a lifesaver — for both you and the other driver.