Safe Driving Techniques for Seniors 

The recent snow dusting here in Indianapolis creates breathtaking, picturesque winter scenes. But, it also makes roads more dangerous; especially for the youngest and oldest drivers. 

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that drivers over age 75 are more likely to be involved in fatal accidents than any other age group—except teenagers. And, in the next 15 years, a fourth of all drivers in the U.S. will be 65 or older according to a University of Florida study. 

Many, such as officials in states like Florida and groups like AARP, are providing classes to help older drivers. Not only do attendees report that they are more knowledgeable drivers because of the classes; but, the successes have prompted some insurance companies to provide discounts to those who take these accredited classes. 

A recent NPR story reports that older drivers may not notice how much they have changed physically, how much driving has changed, and what they can do to adjust. 

The NPR story features Senior Transportation Consultant Fran Carlin Rogers, who does “car fits” for older drivers, and reports that a common mistake has to do with mirrors. “The way mirrors are recommended to be positioned now [is] dramatically different than the way all of us learned to drive because the roads are so much more complicated,” says Rogers. “There’s much more traffic than [when] we were young drivers.” She also checks to see that clients aren’t “sitting too far forward…to make up for getting a little shorter” and provides solutions for clients who can’t reach seatbelts and therefore aren’t wearing them. 

Choosing safe roads may also be part of the solution. Sherrilene Classen of the University of Florida’s Institute for Mobility, Activity and Participation (or I-MAP) says that studies show older-driver-friendly roads have the following common elements: 

  • wider road shoulders 
  • protected left-turn lanes 
  • green arrows to give drivers the right of way 

To learn more about new rules of the road as well as defensive driving techniques, tips on navigating problem situations, how to correctly use mirrors, anti-lock brakes, air bags and more consider taking an AARP accredited class.