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Safe Driving at Any Age

By 2030, persons over age 65 will drive 18.9 percent of all vehicle-miles driven nationally, three times the amount in 1990. Older drivers are not necessarily unsafe drivers. Accidents in motor vehicles, however, are the leading cause of injury-related deaths among people 65 to 74 years old. Mature drivers have a higher fatality rate per mile driven than all other age groups except drivers under age 25.

The ability to continue to drive a vehicle as we age is a significant predictor of quality of life. Given that fact, it is important to learn what we can do to protect ourselves, and other drivers and pedestrians around us.

Any age group can benefit by following these basic rules for safe driving:

  • Always wear corrective lenses as required.
  • Be rested. Don’t drive when you are physically tired, emotionally upset, or sleep-deprived.
  • Don’t wear sunglasses in dim or dark conditions.
  • Don’t drink and drive.
  • Ask your doctor or pharmacist how your medications affect driving.
  • Always wear your seat belt.

As we age, many of us experience a decline in eyesight and hearing. Age also affects the time it takes the brain to process information, making us more susceptible to distractions. Consider taking the following steps to help keep yourself mobile and safe:

  • Find a safe way. Look for well-lit and marked streets, clear signs, easy parking, and intersections where stoplights have left-turn arrows.
  • Avoid risky times to drive. Minimize driving in stressful situations such as driving at night, on icy or wet roads, in rush-hour traffic, or on fast-paced highways.
  • Take a course to update your driving skills. A driving course can help you adapt driving habits to accommodate aging. Some courses qualify mature drivers for a reduction in the cost of auto insurance. For a list of driving courses offered in Minnesota, visit the Minnesota Partnership for Safe Mobility website.

Adapted from “Mature Drivers: Keeping the freedom as long as safely possible” by the Minnesota Partnership for Safe Mobility.

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