As we age, a number of factors can combine to make driving more difficult. To keep ourselves and our fellow motorists safe, it’s essential to self-assess our driving skills on a regular basis.
Beth Koster, coordinator of MU Health Care’s Keep Your Keys program, suggests asking yourself the following questions when assessing your driving skills:
- Have I been involved in an automobile accident within the past year?
- Does the thought of driving make me feel stressed or nervous?
- Do I frequently get lost or forget where I am going?
- Am I able to keep up with the flow of traffic, especially on high-speed roads?
- Do I feel safe driving in busy intersections, roundabouts and other potentially difficult or dangerous situations?
- Have others expressed a concern about my driving?
- Do I struggle to read or understand road signs?
- Does the glare of oncoming headlights make it hard for me to see?
- Do I struggle to adjust my focus from distant objects to nearby objects, such as from the road to my speedometer?
- Do I find it difficult to turn my head, use the steering wheel or press the gas and brake pedals?
- Do I struggle to get in and out of my vehicle?
- Do I feel fatigued while driving?
- Am I currently taking any medications that could interfere with my driving?
If you answered “yes” to one or more of these questions, it might be time to make some adjustments to your driving routine. For example, you could avoid driving at night, stay off of highways and only drive during low-traffic times of day. If you answered “yes” to several questions, you should consider retiring from driving.
“It’s important to know your limitations and make changes to stay safe behind the wheel,” Koster said. “If a driving situation makes you uncomfortable, avoid it. Also make sure to plan ahead. Map your route in advance, and tell a friend or loved one where you are going. Let them know when you will be departing your house, and then update them once you have arrived.”