Although experts agree that as we age driving ability begins deteriorating, drivers have widely differing skills. While some drivers continue to drive safely well into their older years, studies show that the crash rate per mile driven rises steadily for drivers 65 and older. Seven Mature Driving Issues 1) Vision As you age, it becomes more difficult to distinguish detail and your ability to focus slows. A 60 year old driver versus a teenager needs twice as much time for their eyes to adjust to changes in lighting and needs three times as much light to see properly. From about 40 years old and beyond, it becomes increasingly more difficult to recover from the glare of oncoming headlights. On the average, recovery time slows another 50% every 12 years. Drivers base 90 percent of their decisions on what they see, making good vision imperative to safe driving. What can you do? Get regular eye exams. Always wear your glasses. Keep mirrors and windshields clean. Sit high enough so you can see at least ten feet in front of your car. Look at lower right side of the road when there is oncoming traffic to avoid glare. 2)Physical Fitness Driving requires physical activity. Diminished strength, coordination, and flexibility can have a major impact on your ability to safely control your car. What can you do? Stay active both mentally and physically. With your doctors approval, do stretching and a walking program. Choose a car with automatic transmisssion, power steering, and power brakes. Sit at least ten inches from the steering wheel to avoid being injured by the airbag. 3)Attention and Reaction Time Driving requires dividing your attention between multiple activities and being able to react quickly to situations that often arise without warning. What can you do? Drive during the day and avoid rush hour and plan your route before leaving. Keep a safe distance between you and the car ahead. Keep alert to sounds outside your car by limiting conversation and background noises. Watch for flashing lights of emergency vehicles in case you cannot hear sirens. At intersections, look to the sides of the road as well as directly ahead. When possible, avoid driving during inclement weather. 4) Medication Some over-the counter and prescription medications may cause drowsiness and lead to distracted driving. What can you do? Talk to your doctor about your medications and the side effects. Read the labels for any warnings. Find another driver if your medication makes you drowsy or disoriented. 5) Keep Alert to Changes Be aware of your body's changes and updates to traffic laws. What can you do? Know your physical limitations and how they may affect your driving. Refresh your knowledge of safe driving practices and laws. 6) Alternative Transportation Depending on where you live, there are often many ways of getting around town without having to use your own car. You may be surprised to find that any one of them is easier than driving and parking your car. What can you do? Learn what is available in your community(buses, subway, etc.) Check with your local Area Agency on Aging for transportation services and benefits. Ask questions about the services and scheldues of each type of available transportation. 7) Self Awareness While everyone wants to keep driving as long as possible, no one wants to be a threat to themselves or to others because they are no longer able to drive safely. Be aware, know your limits, assess your driving abilities as you age, stay safe on the road.