National Senior Safety Week November 6 – 12, 2011

The Canada Safety Council has designated the week of November 6th – 12th as National Senior Safety Week.  Keeping their driver’s licence gives independence for mature Canadian drivers, especially for those who have been driving most of their lives. Aging can bring changes that can affect the older driver’s ability to drive safely.  The Canada Safety Council’s 55 Alive driver improvement course can help mature drivers sharpen and update their skills, giving them tools to help stay safe on the road.

The Canada Safety Council reminds all mature drivers, and people who care about their aging loved ones, to be conscious of the physical and mental challenges that aging brings, and how it can affect their driving.  Here are some tips they offer to improve senior safety on the road:

Vision, Hearing and Medication

  • Have regular vision and hearing examinations.
  • When travelling, always wear your eyeglasses or hearing aid.
  • Give yourself time to adjust to new eyeglasses and have your glasses checked periodically.
  • Use medication correctly. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about the effects of prescribed medications on driving. With some medicines, you may not be able to drive at all.
  • Take all medications according to the instructions.
  • Make sure the combination of your medications does not impair your driving skills.
  • If you have more than one doctor, make sure all of them know everything you are taking.

Driving Tips

  • Concentrate on your driving and prepare for the unexpected.
  • Keep your eyes moving and watch the entire traffic environment.
  • Be alert for parked cars, pedestrians and cyclists.
  • Check to the side several times before turning or merging.
  • Never assume you can take the right of way, even if you know it should be yours.
  • When driving in the rain or in winter, reduce speed and increase following distance.
  • Maintain space cushions to the sides and behind your car.
  • Plan all your trips, choosing familiar routes and avoiding dense and/or high-speed traffic.
  • Avoid driving at dusk or dawn, when visibility is difficult.
  • Avoid prolonged hours of driving.
  • Keep windshields and rear windows clean inside and out.
  • Do not drive if you are emotionally upset.
  • Minimize background noise. Keep radio volume, air conditioning and heater blowing units on the lowest setting.
  • Never drive after consuming alcohol.

It is extremely useful to take a driver improvement course such as the Canada Safety Council’s 55 Alive.   The course teaches practical defensive driving techniques, slowing down, driving during the day and reducing the length of trips – all of which can help mitigate age-related challenges and keep mature drivers safer.

Someday a senior may no longer be able to drive. The “55 Alive” course can be a good way for families to bring up this sensitive subject with mature drivers. Part of the course helps them prepare for the day they can’t drive anymore by helping them learn to make alternative transportation arrangements and adjust to the change in lifestyle.

Why not take some practical steps along these lines during the National Senior Safety Week.  Whether it is for yourself or for your parent, it will be time well spent.

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