Driving and Getting Older…What to Watch For

Over the course of our lives, some of our most powerfully remembered moments, of a first date, a first kiss, or a mad dash to the hospital for the birth of a child, are inextricably linked to our vehicles. Bow Valley Insurance has been helping to insure all of your car-related adventures since 1980.

For drivers with a lifetime of experience, the good news is that you are among the safest drivers in Canada, and can benefit from automobile insurers competing for your business, especially with a dedicated independent agent assisting you. The bad news is that safety statistics also reveal that some aging Canadian drivers are destined to become the most dangerous drivers on the road.

Everyone needs to understand why aging drivers lose their ability to safely operate a vehicle, and how to assess either themselves, or others, so that we may all safely share our roads. Such assessment may lead to a re-evaluation of your driving needs and even better rates (for example, insurance premiums could lower if you are driving less frequently).

Age Is Not Just A Number

The same aging processes that colours life as we get older, from aching joints, to required medicines and their side effects, to episodic forgetfulness, all hamper our ability to drive. It is also no great secret to anyone with children or grandchildren that the reflexes of youth are far better. These faster reflexes also help reactions behind the wheel. It is important to recognize that you may not be as “quick off the mark” as you used to be, however, that doesn’t mean you have suddenly become incapable of driving. You may merely have to acknowledge and then manage the problem. The older driver needs to rely upon experience and common sense to mitigate physical deterioration or momentary lapses in concentration.

By pre-planning a route, you are less likely to find yourself on unfamiliar ground, where you don’t know the locations of the traffic signs, what the speed limit is, or are forced to use a distracting GPS unit while you drive.

If you slow down your travel just a little bit, but not so much that you become a ponderous navigation hazard, you afford yourself the extra reaction time you may need to handle the unexpected.

Also, don’t challenge yourself as regards time, distance, or weather conditions. There is no need to place added outside pressure upon your remaining ability to drive safely. If driving has indeed become more physically or mentally taxing, risking driving in a blizzard, rather than waiting for it to clear, is practically begging for trouble to find you.

Know Your Capability, So That You Can Trust In It

Most of us regularly see a doctor to identify health issues that may impair our driving, but also far too many of us don’t get our eyes regularly examined. Vision deteriorates almost imperceptibly and our brains are great at fooling us into thinking we are seeing “well enough” when perhaps we’d be better served by a more powerful set of prescription lenses. A regular eye examination can also catch early signs of failing night vision, or other impairments such as cataracts or glaucoma.

Likewise, it is critical to know what medications you are on, how they interact with one another, and how they affect your ability to drive. Taking multiple daily pills can be difficult to track, and the inherent danger not only stems from actually taking the medicines incorrectly, but also from forgetting to take one at all. For example, hypertension can quickly reappear and cause episodic dizziness or light-headedness if some medicines aren’t adequately managing it.

Time Catches Up To Everyone

Unfortunately, there comes a time when the unthinkable becomes a stark reality and driving is no longer safe for you or a loved one. Then, the surrendering of driving privileges becomes the only honest answer to a series of collisions, or episodes of “lost driving.” Remember to handle the issue with tact. Either you yourself, or a loved one, has reached a decision that has life altering implications for everyone involved. Still, as difficult as it may seem at the time, adjusting to a new reality where everyone is safe and sound is far easier than is dealing with the aftermath of a major, and avoidable, collision.

Contact us for a no obligation auto insurance quote.