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Mature Driver Safety
By 2030, more than 70 million Americans will be 65 or older. At least 90 percent of them will be licensed to drive.
People over 65 are the fastest-growing population in the United States. Though seniors are more likely to wear safety belts and less likely to drink and drive or speed, they're more likely to be hurt in a car crash.
Mature Driver Safety Resources
What can mature drivers do to reduce their risk of injury from motor vehicle crashes?
- Wear your seatbelt every time on every ride and make sure everyone else in the vehicle is buckled up.
- Be aware of medication side effects and interactions with alcohol consumption.
- Plan trips during low traffic times.
- Left turns are more dangerous, so plan your travel route to include more right turns.
- Take a driver improvement class to maintain driving skills and learn the newest highway laws and vehicle changes.
- Move into an intersection only after checking the area for pedestrians, cyclists, hazards and other motor vehicles. Don't allow other drivers to pressure you into sudden moves.
- Limit conversation and keep the radio volume low to minimize distraction.
- Don't drive when you're tired, depressed or in the grips of a strong emotion, such as anger.
- Never drink and drive. Metabolism changes with age, and even one drink can make driving unsafe at any speed. In addition, avoid driving until you are aware of any medication's that may impair your driving.
- Ensure your windshield is clean and visibility is clear. If you smoke, refrain form lighting up inside the vehicle.
How do I know if my driving skills are declining?
There are a number of warning signs you can look for. Are you:
- Running stop signs or red lights before realizing it?
- Stopping for green lights or when there is no indication that you need to stop?
- Having near misses with vehicles, pedestrians, or objects?
- Merging into another lane without looking?
- Going the wrong way against traffic?
- Getting lost in familiar areas?
- Stopping in the middle of intersections?
- Confusing the gas and the brake pedals?
If you are concerned about your driving skills, consult with your physician about a driving evaluation.
The most common factors in crashes involving mature drivers are:
- Failure to yield right of way.
- Improper left turns.
- Confusion in heavy traffic.
- Complications while backing up.
- Failure to maintain proper speed.
- Hesitation in responding to new traffic signs, signals or pavement markings.
How old is too old to drive?
You can be a safe or unsafe driver at any age. In general, young, inexperienced drivers tend to have the worst driving records, and experienced middle-age drivers tend to have the best ones. However, as early as 60, but more frequently after the age of 75, driving skills tend to decline. This decline is especially true of mature drivers who take certain medications or have conditions associated with the aging process such as vision problems, arthritis, diabetes, strokes, Parkinson's disease, or Alzheimer's disease.
Mature drivers may investigate the following transportation alternatives in their community in advance of actually needing to use them:
- Carpooling with family and friends
- Taxi cabs
- Shuttle buses or vans
- Public buses, trains, and subways
What are Virginia's Senior Licensing Laws?
The length of the cycle to be issued a Virginia driver's license is five years without accelerated renewal. A vision test is required for those drivers 80 and older.
What is the Medical Advisory Board of the Department of Motor Vehicles?
The Medical Advisory Board has the authority to review an individual's ability to drive safely. Based on its assessment, the board can restrict, revoke or take no action regarding the individual's driver's license.
The AARP Driver Safety Program is an 8-hour classroom refresher that can help you learn the effects of aging on driving and how you can adjust your driving. Most classes are taught in two, four-hour sessions spanning two days, and the course costs $10.