Tips to keep safe while driving

Published Mar 26, 2017 at 9:00am

We need to drive in order to stay independent and we must drive safely for the same reason. It is good to review the subject of driving, as we age, and see if we should make improvements or changes.

The first aspect of driving safely is to consider the car, itself. Newer cars have safety devices that are very practical. They warn you when you’ve crossed over a lane marking, if a car in front of you has slowed down, or if you are about to back into another car. Airbags and seatbelts are proven effective and must be used at all times.

The car needs to be inspected on a regular basis. If you feel there is any problem with the car, have your mechanic take a look. You may need to change tires or have the brakes adjusted. So, the first step to being a safe driver is to drive a safe car. Newer cars are especially safe.

Secondly you need to have all your capabilities. Make sure your vision is good and that you have effective glasses, if you need them. Keep sunglasses in the car. Use a hearing aide, if you have trouble hearing. Make sure the seat and mirrors are adjusted so you can see all around. Sit on a raised cushion, if need be. Make all of those arrangements before driving into traffic. 

Most accidents are caused by alcohol or distractions. Don’t get engrossed in the radio. Ignore your cell phone. Tell anyone riding with you that you don’t “drive and talk at the same time.” If you take medication that effects your alertness, you shouldn’t drive. If night driving doesn’t feel safe, try not to drive at night. Extremely important is – do not drink and drive. Maybe you felt safe, driving under the influence in the past. However, as your reactions are slowed by age, they are also slowed by alcohol. Always drive at the speed limit. Move your eyes to see bicycles, children, and animals.

If you take a safe driving course, you will be a better driver and also save money on your automobile insurance. These are usually called Defensive Driving courses and many are sponsored by AARP or other organizations. They will give you many tips and show helpful videos. It is never too late to learn to be a better driver. It is always good to review the rules of the road.

You may be driving grandchildren or other small children in your car. Make sure the parents give you the appropriate car seat or booster seat. Have them show you how to use it – how to get the child in and out. These products provide safety for young children, even in accidents. All children under age 13 should sit in the back seat. The back seat is always safer than the front, so you should insist on that safety measure. A booster seat allows small children to see out of the window. Make sure car doors are locked when you are driving.

Driving in ways that are against the law may bring you to the attention of a police officer. That is an uncomfortable experience for everyone. Concentrate on avoiding these situations by always coming to a full stop at a stop sign, stopping before making a right-turn-on-red, staying at the speed limit or under, and parking legally. 

Avoiding automobile accidents keeps us healthy and keeps ourselves and others safe. Obeying the rules of the road allows us to avoid the attention of police officers. Taking a Defensive Driving course will help us review all of this material and become a safer and more confident driver.