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Old Dogs – New Tricks

Old Dogs – New Tricks

The next time you are driving along and come up behind an elderly driver don’t curse and become enraged because, dear reader, in a few scant years from now that old fogey will be you. The simple fact is that we all get older and as we age our motor skills decline. Sorry, but that’s just the way it is. Get over it. However, if you are aware of your limitations you can take certain steps and precautions to ensure that you are able to drive well into later years.

The first step is to know the signs. Health problems don’t always mean that driving needs to be stopped, but they do require extra vigilance, awareness, and a willingness to correct them. Some eye conditions or medications can interfere with your ability to focus your peripheral vision, or cause you to experience extra sensitivity to light, trouble seeing in the dark, or blurred vision. Can you easily see traffic lights and street signs? Or do you find yourself driving closer and closer, slowing by a sign to see it? Can you react appropriately to drivers coming from behind or to the side?

So you need to be able to see but, in emergencies, how will you react, say, if you need to brake suddenly or quickly look back over your shoulder? The worry is that an elderly motorist may become flustered when put under pressure because of the various actions we have to more or less simultaneously take in an emergency situation. Lack of mobility and problems with reflexes all conspire to make life harder than it used to be. Then there’s eyesight and hearing problems. Whether you like it or not time and your body conspire against you and it is important that you know the signs. Red flags include having more ‘near misses’ than is usual, bumping into fence posts or kerbs and difficulty parking.

This all paints a gloomy picture but it doesn’t have to be so. Ageing does not automatically equal total loss of driving ability. There are many things you can do to continue driving safely, including modifying your car, the way you drive, and understanding and rectifying physical issues that may interfere with driving. You can start by taking charge of your health. Regular check-ups are critical to keep you in the best possible driving shape; like annual eye and hearing tests. Talk with your doctor about the effects that ailments or medications may have on your driving ability. For example, if you have glaucoma, you may find tinted spectacle lenses useful in reducing glare.

Finally, it is probably best to find the right car for you. If you have chronic back problems you don’t want to be lowering yourself into low-slung sports cars. Try to select a ride that suits your need rather than your fancy. Maybe an auto transmission would be a good choice, for example, or a ‘sit up and beg‘ driving position. There are a lot of distractions on the roads today so older drivers must know their limitations and drive defensively by taking extra care with all aspects of handling a car. If it comes to the worst then somehow you’re going to have to make the adjustment to life without driving. It comes to us all and the only thing we can do is battle, as above, to stay on the road for as long as safely as possible.

This post was written by:

- who has written 474 posts on Motor Blogger.

Geoff is a freelance writer and photographer.

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bG9nZ2VyX0xvZ28uanBnIjtpOjI7czo3MzoiaHR0cDovL21vdG9yYmxvZ2dlci5jby51ay93cC1jb250ZW50L3dvb191cGxvYWRzLzMtTW90b3JfQmxvZ2dlcl9Mb2dvLnBuZyI7fTwvbGk+PGxpPjxzdHJvbmc+d29vX3ZpZGVvX2NhdGVnb3J5PC9zdHJvbmc+IC0gQXV0byBOZXdzPC9saT48L3VsPg==