We all age at different rates and in different ways. Because of this, there isn’t a magic number when adults should arbitrarily stop driving. Driving ability is related more directly to health than a driver’s age. Let us guide you through some of the issues you may face as a driver and offer some suggestions to make your driving decisions easier for you.

Changes

The changes that our bodies undergo as we age are what have the biggest effect on our diving ability. Our muscles weaken, our joints stiffen, and our reflexes slow down. These physical changes can affect your reaction time when you’re in traffic and need to respond suddenly with a turn of the steering wheel or a tap on the brakes. Your eyesight may change, too. Vision is the sense you rely on the most heavily while driving. As you age, you need more light to see, and your peripheral vision may become more limited. Conversely, bright sunlight during the day and glaring headlights at night can have a greater effect on visibility. The chance of hearing loss also increases with age. In order to drive safely you need to be able to hear horns and other sounds that alert you as a driver.

What to Look Out For

Self-policing is one of the most effective ways to ensure that you’re being the safest driver you can be. Being honest with yourself about your driving abilities and taking action can save you a lot of grief. If you’re concerned about your driving, here are some things to look out for. Do you find that you’re receiving multiple tickets or warnings, having more close calls, or actual accidents? Are you getting lost in areas you’re familiar with, or having difficulty following traffic signs? Is it becoming easier to misjudge traffic on highway entrance and exit ramps? Are you experiencing road rage, or is your driving making other motorists honk at you? Have your family, friends, or doctor expressed concern about your driving? If one or more of these are true, you should consider whether you can continue driving safely.

Ways to Help Yourself

There are plenty of things you can do to continue to be the safest driver possible. Here are some smart driving tips to help you stay safe when you’re on the road. Before you leave your house, plan your route using streets you’re familiar with. Always wear your seat belt, keep your headlights on, and avoid driving when you’re tired or under stress. Minimize distractions – never use your cell phone while driving, and don’t listen to the radio or carry on a conversation. Visit places close to home and easy to get to, and factor in extra time if driving conditions are less than optimal. Stay away from routes with left turns and areas that may be risky like ramps or dangerous intersections, and make sure there’s enough space in front of and behind your car. Have your hearing and vision checked regularly, and talk with your doctor about whether any medications you’re taking have side effects that could affect your ability to drive.

More Safety Ideas

Driving a car with sufficient or additional safety features is also helpful. Does your car have airbags, power steering, power brakes, an automatic transmission, and large power mirrors? Have your windshield wiper blades checked often and replace them when they start to wear down. Keep your headlights aligned and clean. If you have issues with your lower body, there are additional safety features like hand controls for the accelerator and brakes. One final suggestion: take a driving refresher course. You should try to do this every few years; your insurance company may even lower your bill when you pass. Check with the AARP or AAA for more information.

Wondering how this can affect your insurance? HealthMarkets can help answer your questions. We’re here to make sure you have the health insurance you need – and it won’t cost you a penny. Call HealthMarkets today to get the answers you’re looking for.

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