Winter Driving Safety for Seniors
Hazardous weather can make driving dangerous for drivers of all ages. In addition to weather-related risks, older drivers are also more likely to have health conditions that impair their ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. In fact, Triple-A (AAA) confirms that fatal car accident rates increase among drivers who are 75 years old and older, compared to other age groups. It is important for every senior to make safe driving a priority this season and continue good habits throughout the year.
Physical and cognitive changes come with aging. While there are steps every person can do to maintain good health and wellness, certain changes are inevitable. Many age-related changes impact driving, such as eyesight problems, hearing loss, stiff joints, muscle weakness, and slowed reflexes. You must use extra caution when facing one of these issues.
How should you prepare your vehicle for winter? Low temperatures, snow, ice, and sleet all take a toll on vehicles. A senior preparing to drive this winter should perform routine maintenance or take their vehicle to a reputable mechanic to ensure it is ready for cold weather. Some important features to check include battery, breaks, lights and mirrors, fluids, tires, and wipers. Many auto shops will check and test out these items for free. It’s important to get these checked before the weather worsens.
Every vehicle should have a well-stocked emergency kit on board. A car emergency kit should include non-perishable foods, water, blankets, hats, gloves, scarves, flashlight, batteries, flares, reflective triangles or cones, and a mobile phone and portable charger.
What should you do before you drive? Before driving, every driver must remove snow and ice from their vehicle. Snow and ice make it harder to see, and snow-covered vehicles are not easily visible to other drivers and pedestrians. When de-icing a vehicle, do not forget the roof. Large chunks of ice and snow that shift and fall off while moving can collide with other vehicles and people, causing serious injuries. Drivers should do the following before leaving: start the care and let it run a few minutes, use the right tools to make the job safer, dress for the weather, and park in a safe area such as a garage or under an overhang.
A senior with a serious health condition should ask a friend, family member, or neighbor for assistance with cleaning their car during the winter.
What to do if you must drive? Driving in the snow takes a bit of skill and a lot of patience. During and after a snowfall, travel takes longer. The following are some basic winter driving safety tips for senior citizens: check the weather, slow down, and steer into a skid.