11 Oct Can I still drive safely? A safety guide for seniors
Can I still drive safely? A safety guide for seniors
As we age we will all experience some challenges. For each of us the time may come when we need to consider letting someone else take over the responsibility of driving for us. Here are some things to consider when making this difficult decision: Are you finding that you are confused or lost more often? Do you have difficulty seeing with your peripheral vision? Are you slow to respond to a tight situation? Is it difficult for you to hear your blinkers? Do you find it difficult to see at night? Are you lost or confused in what should be familiar setting? Do you sometimes forget you are driving?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, consider this: At 45 mph you cover 66 feet in one second. The average person takes 1 ½ seconds to begin to brake. This reaction time can increase with age. It take 3 seconds to be in a crash, beginning to end. It takes the average car 64 feet to come to a stop at 20 mph, can you react in time to a child running out in your neighborhood. An airbag deploys at 1/25 of a second at 200 miles per hour with enough force to keep a large person pinned in their seat. For a 200 pound person traveling at 50 mph that’s a force of 1000 pounds.
Keeping these thing in mind here are some safety tips to make you a better driver as you age.
- Keep the heel of your right foot on the floorboard under the brake where you can go from the brake pedal to the gas pedal without lifting your foot off the floor. This cuts down on valuable reaction time.
- Scan the road ¼ mile ahead, or 20 seconds. Frequent scanning allows you to determine possible hazards in advance and react in time.
- Keep your hands at 9 and 3 or 8 and 4 on the steering wheel. By doing this, you have good control over the steering wheel and the crossover of your arms will prevent oversteer.
- Keep your steering wheel pointed at your chest and be at least 10-12 inches from the steering wheel. This position will protect your face and neck if the airbag deploys.
- Set your side view mirrors so you are looking at the lane beside you with the horizon in the mirror, rather than at your own vehicle.
- Glance over your shoulder quickly at these five (5) times:
- when changing lanes
- when turning
- when swerving to miss an object
- when merging
- when entering traffic from a curb
- Always use your blinkers. It is not only the law in Virginia, it helps communicate your intentions. Be sure to use the correct signal and cancel after your maneuver.
- Always buckle up. Not only is this your greatest safety feature, it also lets you stay in control of the car in case of a collision.
- At intersections, look left, straight, right and left again last. Left is where the traffic is coming from.
- Try to stick to familiar roads, during day light hours and light traffic as much as possible.