Safety Tips for the Older Driver

Maintaining a driver's license is an important issue of independence for older Canadians, especially to those who have driven for most of their life.

The aging process brings changes that can affect the older driver's ability to drive safely. These include: reduced vision, particularly at night; a decrease in depth perception; and movement-limiting disabilities such as arthritis and rheumatism that slow down response. The rate of aging varies for each individual, but it is important to recognize age-related changes and learn how to compensate for them.

Vision, Hearing and Medication

  • Have regular vision and hearing examinations.
  • When traveling, always wear your eyeglasses or hearing aid.
  • Give yourself time to adjust to new eyeglasses and have your glasses checked periodically.
  • Use medication correctly, know how it could affect your driving and ensure you are free from harmful effects before driving. With some medicines, you may not be able to drive at all.

Driving Tips

  • Always wear your seat belt.
  • Keep your eyes moving and watch the entire traffic environment.
  • Be alert for parked cars, pedestrians and cyclists.
  • Use rear view and outside mirrors often.
  • 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 unsure whether you should pass or change lanes, stay in your lane.
  • Maintain a minimum three-second following distance. Start your count when the car ahead passes a fixed road mark.
  • 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.
  • Avoid looking at the headlights of oncoming vehicles.
  • Concentrate on your driving and prepare for the unexpected.
  • Do not drive if you are emotionally upset.
  • Minimize background noise. Keep radio volume, air conditioning and heater blowing units on lowest setting.
  • Never drive after consuming alcohol.
  • Take a driver improvement course such as the Canada Safety Council's 55 Alive.