Security and Safety

Protecting Older Drivers on the Road

By Staci Parks 3.4.22

Driving is one of life’s most exciting milestones, and it’s one we work to preserve as long as possible. As we age, physical changes and medical complications can accelerate the risk of a vehicle crash. But now more than ever, there are opportunities to keep driving safe — no matter our age.

Historically, older drivers have gotten a bad rap. The truth is, they are generally more cautious, courteous, and focused. With a little planning and learning and some vehicle modifications, older Texans can make driving a safer venture.

Here are some safety tips for older drivers, including how to accommodate physical challenges and stay protected behind the wheel.

Helpful Tests for Older Drivers

There are several tests that can help older drivers evaluate their ability to drive safely.

  • Vision exam. Your optometrist or ophthalmologist can assess your eyes’ ability to adjust to driving needs and check for age-related issues such as cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration.
  • Hearing exam. Impaired hearing can make driving dangerous. You may not hear an oncoming emergency vehicle or other motorists. 
  • Cognitive testing. A primary care physician can perform simple tests to assess cognitive ability and check for issues such as dementia or memory loss.
  • Physical. This exam will give a physician the opportunity to look for any physical changes that may affect mobility or driving.

Modify Your Ride

By understanding your own physical situation, you can incorporate adjustments that make driving easier, more comfortable, and safer. There are simple, inexpensive features that seniors can add to their vehicles to help improve safety.

  • Pedal extensions. Some of us may lose height as we age, making it difficult to comfortably reach our vehicle’s pedals. Extenders keep you at a safe distance from the steering wheel and air bags, while improving your ability to accelerate and brake as needed.
  • Steering wheel covers. Arthritis can make gripping the wheel uncomfortable or outright painful. The right steering wheel cover can help improve your grip, giving you more control.
  • Swivel seat cushions. The benefits are threefold. A swivel seat cushion can help relieve back and hip pain, improve your line of sight, and help you avoid potential falls when getting in and out of the vehicle. This kind of cushion allows you to rotate your body and slide behind or away from the steering wheel.
  • Convex/multifaceted mirrors. Adding this type of mirror to your vehicle can give you a panoramic view, eliminating blind spots.

Is It Time for a Trade-In?

It might be time to trade in your too-low sports car or too-elevated truck if you consistently have trouble getting in and out of your vehicle — even after making modifications. Your Texas Farm Bureau Insurance Agent can walk you through your coverage options if you’re considering buying a new vehicle.

Take Advantage of Potential Savings

Enrolling in a defensive-driving course has its benefits. Not only will you learn valuable skills and techniques for senior driving safety, but you could earn a discount too. Texas Farm Bureau members can enroll in an online course for $25.

Your Texas Farm Bureau Insurance Agent can help you get the coverage you need at any stage of life. Contact your Texas Farm Bureau Insurance Agent today to learn more.

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