It’s no surprise that Florida’s roadways are home to a large number of drivers in the senior citizen age bracket. Our population of older residents swells dramatically with the onset of “snowbird” season, and our traffic increase clearly illustrates how older drivers become much more prevalent than in the quieter summer months.
Unfortunately, as we increase in age, our cognitive skills, reflexes and vision sometimes deteriorate, putting senior aged drivers at greater risk of causing a serious car crash. While a great number of older drivers are perfectly capable of navigating our area roads and operating their cars safely, there are some who may not be up to the task. In a recent Johns Hopkins Medicine Health Alert, senior drivers are reminded of several tips and are provided useful information that can help keep them safe while behind the wheel:
• The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that everyone between ages 40 and 65 have an eye exam every two to four years. If you’re over age 65, you should see your eye doctor every one to two years, particularly to check for conditions such as cataracts, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration. Between check ups, if your vision changes or you have trouble driving at night, let your eye doctor know right away.
• Upgrade Your Eyewear — You may also want to investigate anti-reflective lenses for your eyeglasses. These lenses minimize glare and allow more light to enter the eye than regular plastic lenses. Anti-reflective lenses are especially helpful at night, cutting the reflections on your lenses from streetlamps and headlights.
• Polarized sunglasses also may be helpful, especially for reducing glare. Polarized lenses have a laminated surface that contains vertical stripes, which allows the light to enter a lens vertically, blocking the horizontal bright light.
Prepare Your Car and Know Your Limits:
• Keep your headlights, taillights, mirrors, and windshields clean. These may sound like housekeeping details, but they can improve your road vision. Give your eyeglasses a shine before you set out, as well.
• Keep a spare pair of eyeglasses and sunglasses in your glove compartment so that you never find yourself driving without a pair handy.
• If you’re buying a car, skip the darkened or tinted windows. Also, pick a model with easy-to-read symbols, large dials, and an instrument panel that brightens well at night. In addition, ask for a rearview mirror that automatically filters out glare.
• When you have your car serviced, make sure the lights are at full power and properly aligned so they don’t affect the vision of drivers coming toward you.
• Plan long road trips with your eyes in mind, stopping every few hours to rest your body and your eyes.
• Avoid traveling at night, dawn, and dusk, especially in places you don’t know well. And skip the crowded highways for quieter routes.
• If you take prescription medicines, such as antihistamines or blood pressure medication, check with your doctor about whether they may affect your vision.
“Senior drivers need to continually monitor their performance behind the wheel, as increased age can sometimes impede their ability to safely operate their vehicle”, says attorney PJ Scheiner, of Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner Personal Injury Lawyers, P.A. “No one wants to see an older driver lose their independence and ability to get where they need to go, but the tragedy of causing a serious car accident is far too dangerous to risk.”
AAA Roadwise Review
For older drivers who want to monitor and improve their driving skills and performance, The American Automobile Association, (AAA), has developed a specialized training software program designed to keep senior citizens safe while driving. The Roadwise Review is a scientifically validated, in-home software tool that you can operate on your home computer. The exercises are designed to measure your abilities in eight separate skill sets, with a summary of results after each segment. The summary will provide recommendations on options available to you, should the testing indicate an area in which you may have a problem.
The software tests you in these abilities:
• Leg Strength and General Mobility • Head/Neck Flexibility • High-Contrast Visual Acuity • Low-Contrast Visual Acuity • Working Memory • Visualization of Missing Information • Visual Search • Useful Field of Vision
Completion of the AAA Roadwise Review may also entitle you to discounted car insurance rates. The CD-ROM is available for $10.00 to AAA Members, and may be ordered by logging on to https://www.aaasouth.com/NewsAndSafety/roadwise_review.aspx?nvbar=NewsAndSafety:RoadwiseReview, or by calling the AAA Director of Driver Improvement Programs at 813-289-5831.
Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner Personal Injury Lawyers, with a 38-year history of focusing on justice for accident victims, urges all senior aged drivers to take action to ensure they are capable of safely driving on our roads and highways.