Safety and the older driver: Tips for life

A driver's license is often seen as the key to independence. It's understandable, then, why older drivers are reluctant to give up the wheel as they age.

However, driving can become a lot more challenging due to the physical changes that come along with age. Here are some important things to keep in mind so that you remain safe while driving as you grow older:

1. Take care of your chronic health issues

As you develop age-related health conditions like high blood pressure or diabetes, make sure that you pay attention to your doctor's instructions regarding your health. Obey any driving restrictions you are given, including temporary bans.

2. Manage your medications

There are a number of common medications that can affect your ability to drive well. Pain medications, muscle relaxants, sleeping aids and even over-the-counter allergy and cold medications can make you drowsy or reduce your reaction times on the road. Read the labels of all your medications for warnings and don't get behind the wheel until you know how a drug affects you. If one of your regular medications is making driving impossible, ask your physician about a substitution.

3. Limit your driving as necessary

As you age, you may find it more difficult to manage long trips, navigate unfamiliar roads and drive at night. While these limitations can be frustrating, it's better to limit yourself than risk a terrible accident. When you don't feel up to driving, there are plenty of alternatives available these days. If you can't find someone to drive you where you need to go, a cab or Uber is an option.

4. Stay physically active to stay on the road

Your ability to move around well is key to driving well. You need hand and arm strength to operate the wheel, neck strength to look around when you're making a turn and leg strength to operate the pedals. Daily physical exercise is a great way to preserve your ability to drive longer.

Despite your best efforts, you may still end up in a motor vehicle accident -- and your age can make you more prone to serious injuries. If that happens, an attorney can help you assess your situation to see if you're entitled to recover your losses.

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