If you aren’t sure that you can drive safely, you probably can’t. Older drivers who have concerns about their ability to drive safely need to have that conversation right away about safety with those closest with them and with their medical doctors. At the very least, you should stop driving at night and driving on the highway, driving in bad weather and driving long distances until you know you do not pose a danger to yourself and others on the road.
The telltale signs that an older driver may need to reconsider his or her ability to safely drive include failing vision, confusion (dementia – in some cases), loss of physical coordination (both of which can affect something as simple as the ability to push down on accelerator when you meant to apply the brakes), problems with balance, declines in cognitive functioning and perception and delays in reaction time.
Watch those medications you take and make sure they do not impair driving. Many medications will. If someone is becoming increasingly confused, disoriented and/or forgetful, then those are strong indicators that the older driver may need to permanently hang up those car keys and let someone else drive behind the wheel.
They should have their driver’s license and any other identification that contains their contact information and the contact information of a spouse, family members, and friends – in case of emergency. They must have their glasses if they wear them and/or they’re having vision issues. They should have a fully-charged, functioning cell phone and a cell phone charger in their car at all times so they will always be to be able to call for help. In the event that an older driver is stranded, it will be helpful – and possibly lifesaving – to have a backup supply of necessary medications – as well as bottled water and, maybe, some powerbars. A heavy blanket is very helpful for those who live in areas of the country that experience cold winter temperatures. Additionally, older drivers should have the same safety items recommended for all drivers: flares, a first aid kit, a flashlight, jumper cables and some type of a warning device in your trunk if your car becomes disabled.