Getting older doesn’t have to mean becoming less safe behind the wheel

If you’re a senior driver (say 65+) who was involved in a car crash, you may be rethinking your ability to drive safely – even if another driver was responsible for the crash. You may have heard that because people’s motor skills diminish and their reaction time slows with age, older drivers are less safe. 

While your body and mind might not be as quick as they were several decades ago, you have experience and knowledge that you didn’t have then. The latter two can make you a better driver than you used to be – as long as you make the appropriate allowances for a slight slowing of your reaction time.

How older drivers can compensate for slower reaction time

Reaction time is the length of time between when you get information (like the car in front of you suddenly stopping) and when you act on that information. There are things that you can do to make up for the slowing of reaction time that’s normal as we age and to increase your safety on the road overall. 

  • Increase following distance: Allow a little extra space between your car and the vehicle in front of you. Instead of following the “3-second rule,” make it 4 seconds.
  • Eliminate driving distractions: Set your radio station or whatever music or podcast or want to listen to before you start driving. If you’re using GPS to get to your destination, then set that as well.
  • Avoid left turns if you can: Drivers who are 65 and older are the demographic most likely to be involved in crashes during left-hand turns. These turns can be dangerous unless there’s a designated left turn lane because you’re dealing with oncoming traffic from people trying to beat red lights. 
  • Avoid busy areas and times: If your schedule is somewhat flexible, you should avoid driving during rush hours and lunch hours. If you can get where you’re going using surface streets instead of a highway, you should do that.
  • Review your medications: If any of your meds have warnings about driving, heed them. Of course, you should never drive after consuming any amount of alcohol, as that will only further impair your reaction time.

If you were involved in a crash caused by a negligent or reckless driver, don’t let yourself get blamed just because you’re an older driver. An experienced attorney can help you assert your rights and get the compensation to which you’re entitled.

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