As an older adult, you know driving helps you be independent. Driving lets you run your own errands, visit friends and family and maybe even go to work. But did you know you are more likely to get injured or killed in a car accident as you get older? In fact, over 236,000 senior drivers went to emergency rooms and over 5,700 died because of car crashes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A decline in vision, reduced cognitive functions and physical changes can all affect your driving abilities. But despite these risks, there are some things you can do to keep yourself safe on the road.
1. Wear your seat belt
Your seat belt is key to protecting you from injuries and death during collisions. Make sure you always wear it, no matter how short your drive may be. It is actually good news that older adults ages 55 to 64 are more likely to wear seat belts than younger adults ages 21 to 24. Be part of that 55 percent and prioritize your safety.
2. Avoid impaired driving
It should go without saying that driving while drunk or impaired by certain prescription drugs is never safe. No matter how much alcohol you think you can handle, never get behind the wheel while you are under the influence. Thankfully, seniors are less likely to drive while drunk than other drivers. Only six percent of drivers aged 75 and over who died in crashes had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08. Do not be someone who makes the statistic larger.
3. Drive in safe conditions
Know your limitations and what conditions may be more dangerous for you. For example, you might want to drive during daylight due to reduced visibility at night. You might also want to avoid high-speed freeways and bad weather. Older drivers generally tend to drive in safe conditions.
These are three things many older drivers already practice to keep themselves safe. If you already do these, keep up the good work. Otherwise, start following these tips to avoid accidents.