Driving Considerations for Senior Health and Wellness
You probably know that Arizona (specifically, Maricopa county) is among the busiest and fastest growing metropolitan areas in the United States. In fact, the population in Maricopa county grew from 3.8 million to over 4.5 million in just 9 years (2010 vs 2019) and that growth has shown no signs of slowing.
If you drive anywhere in the greater Phoenix area or surrounding suburbs, you’ve noticed the accompanying increase in traffic and the ongoing road construction. Couple this with accidents, traffic jams and impatient drivers and a drive across town can feel like anything but a dream cruise.
According to the Arizona Department of Transportation, in 2019, Maricopa county recorded 97,105 car accidents. Sadly, 428 fatalities resulted and over 26,000 injuries. In general, senior citizens cause fewer accidents, which may be somewhat due to the amount of time and times of day that they are on the road. That said, seniors are at a much greater risk of being injured or killed in a motor vehicle accident because of their frailty. For this reason and the fact that we know that along with aging come changes in vision, range of motion and cognitive response, we’d like to offer these driving suggestions and reminders for safer Arizona senior living.
15 Tips for Senior Driving
- Avoid peak traffic periods when possible. Most accidents in Arizona occur between 5 and 7 pm.
- Don’t speed. If traffic is flowing at a faster pace, be sure to take the right hand lane and let them pass.
- Wear your seat belt every single time you get in the car.
- Make sure your seat and mirrors are properly adjusted for your comfort, ease of reaching pedals and road vision.
- Drive during daylight hours but try to avoid dawn and dusk when the sun can impair your vision.
- Have your vision checked regularly and make sure your eyeglass prescription is current.
- Keep your windshield clean and wear sunglasses when it is very bright outside.
- Give yourself plenty of room between you and the car in front of you in case they brake quickly.
- Do not use your cell phone when you drive. If you must use it, pull over to a safe location.
- Avoid other distractions while you drive such as eating, adjusting the air conditioning, navigation system or radio.
- Choose routes that you are familiar with and avoid dangerous intersections and highly congested freeways.
- Don’t drive if you are fatigued or not feeling well and definitely don’t get behind the wheel if you feel impaired or your prescription bottle warns against driving.
- Avoid driving in bad weather. Should you get caught in a summer monsoon storm, pull over to a safe location until it is over.
- Listen to concerned family members or friends who suggest you should consider giving up driving. No one wants to see you lose your independence and it is very difficult for them to bridge the subject so if they do, it’s probably for a reason. Ask your physician if they have any concerns about your ability to drive and if they agree, be prepared to stop driving.
- Give yourself an honest evaluation. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has a very useful publication called Drivers 65 Plus: Check Your Performance - A Self-Rating Tool with Facts and Suggestions for Safe Driving.
At Fellowship Square Historic Mesa, a senior living community, we have residents who may still drive and those who do not. Our independent senior living residents may find using our complimentary transportation service is a huge benefit. Having this service at the community helps many with cost, driving stress or impairments. Additionally, as some of our residents have health issues that affect their ability to drive, our complimentary service can become a necessity and not just a benefit.
If you want to learn more about our transportation services and view our boundary map, please click here.
Upcoming event on safe driving for seniors!
We're offering a free event on 9/23 for seniors to share tips on safe driving.