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Senior Drivers: Ways to Improve Your Driving Safety

As we get older, physical changes occur which can impact our safety behind the wheel. The good news is there are steps we can take to remain safer drivers even as we age. Thanks to the Pleasant Hill Commission on Aging, here are some helpful suggestions for senior drivers. If you’re not a senior driver but have a parent or friend who is, consider sharing these suggestions with them:

1. VISION – 90% of the information you use while driving is visual. This makes it important to:
•Adjust mirrors properly before you start to drive.
•Check your rearview mirror every 10-20 seconds.
•Turn and look over your shoulder when changing lanes.
•Avoid night driving.
2. MEMORY and ATTENTION – Eliminating distractions that take your eyes or mind off the road is useful at any age. To improve your focus and reduce distractions:
•Put your sunglasses where you can easily reach them.
•Know where you are going before you start.
•Turn the radio off and keep conversations to a minimum.
•Drive on familiar roads to reduce stress.
hikingpoles3. STRENGTH & ENDURANCE – Regular exercise helps lower the incidence of memory loss and physical disability:
•Continue the exercise habit; take regular walks.
•Contact the Senior Center, YMCA, or Recreation & Park District about exercise options.
•Get plenty of sleep and rest.
•Ask your health care provider about any health concerns before starting your routine.
4. STAY INFORMED ON HEALTH CONDITIONS & MEDICATION CHANGES
•Ask your doctor or pharmacist about side-effects or negative drug interactions that may affect your driving.
•Be sure you know how you react to a medication before getting behind the wheel.
5. CHECK OUT YOUR CAR – The safer your vehicle, the safer you are on the road. Plus, not having to worry about the reliability of your car reduces your stress while driving:
•Maintain the correct fluid levels and air pressure in the tires.
•Promptly repair any damage that could influence driving safety (e.g. cracked windshield, broken mirror, burned out light).
•Participate in a CarFit event (the next one is May 2 in Pleasant Hill).
 
Images courtesy National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, National Institutes of Health

CarFit Event for Pleasant Hill Seniors – Saturday, May 2, 2015

Older drivers are often the safest drivers, since they are more likely to wear their seatbelts and less likely to speed or drink and drive. However, older drivers are more likely to be killed or seriously hurt when a crash does occur due to their greater susceptibility to injury.
CarFit
CarFit is an educational program offering older adults the opportunity to check how well their personal vehicles “fit” them. A trained team, including occupational therapy practitioners, will assist older drivers in assuring they leave with:
 • A clear line of sight over the steering wheel 
 • Adequate space between the front airbag/steering wheel and the driver’s breastbone
 • Properly adjusted head restraints and proper positioning on the gas & brake pedals 
 • Proper seat belt fit and instruction on proper use
 • Safe positioning of mirrors to minimize blind spots
 

Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 3.49.27 PMThe Pleasant Hill Commission on Aging will host a CarFit event for Pleasant Hill Seniors on Saturday, May 2, from 10am-1:00pm, consisting of a series of personal appointments. The 20-minute appointment not only provides an opportunity to open a positive conversation about driver-to-vehicle fit, but it also provides specific community resources to help older drivers stay healthy and continue to drive for as long as safely possible.

To register for an appointment, please call Danielle Habr from the City of Pleasant Hill at (925) 671-5221 by April 29. Appointments will be taken on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information about this program, please visit car-fit.org.

Pleasant Hill CarFit Event
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
555 Boyd Road
Saturday, May 2, 10am-1pm