As we get older, our minds and bodies slow down. The changes occur at different rates for everyone, but no one is as quick mentally or physically at 60 as they were at 30.
That means that reaction time for senior drivers is slower. You may not spot a potential danger, like a car that suddenly merges into your lane ahead of you, as fast as you used to. You then may not be able to put on your brakes as quickly.
This slowed reaction time leads to far too many crashes caused by senior drivers as well as younger motorists. Even when seniors are able to avoid a crash, close calls can lead them to give up the keys, either on their own or at the insistence of their families.
There are ways to compensate for slower reactions
If your only issue is being a little slower than you used to be, there are ways that you can compensate for your slowed reaction time and improve your chances of staying safe on the road. For example:
- Increase your following distance behind vehicles ahead of you. This gives you more time to slow or stop if necessary.
- Avoid driving on highways and busy roads during rush hour. When you have a lot of vehicles traveling at high speeds, you increase the risk of a crash. Most GPS systems let you choose a route that is only surface streets.
- Navigation systems can be helpful even if you’re going somewhere familiar. They help you avoid missing turns, and some will automatically reroute you if there’s roadwork or an accident ahead.
- Avoid left turns when you can – especially when there’s no left turn lane. Senior drivers have more than their fair share of left-turn crashes. It may be safer to make a few right turns instead to reach your destination.
Taking basic precautions like avoiding distractions in the car, not driving when you’re tired and being conscientious about heeding the warnings on your medications about driving can also help you stay safe.
One reason that these extra defensive driving measures are important is because you can never count on other drivers to do the right thing. If you were injured in a crash caused by another driver, don’t settle for less compensation than you need and deserve.