Senior Driver Safety Checklist & Self Assessment

There are many factors senior drivers should consider before getting behind the wheel. The topic areas below are subject to each individual and may not apply to everyone. But for most people, age comes with an inevitable decline in eyesight and motor skills. With these concerns in mind, we’ve developed this safety checklist to be referenced by senior drivers prior to operating a motor vehicle. If any of these items portray your current health or situation, then speak with a family member or personal physician to learn more about safety options.

Vehicle Comfort

Periodically, sit in the car without the motor running and check the following:

  • Driver seat positioning and distance to the floor pedals.
  • Lumbar, head rest and seat back supports and positions.
  • Positioning of all mirrors (rear view, passenger and driver side views).
  • Seat belt comfort (does it cut your neck and how is it normally worn).
  • Look straight ahead, check to see whether you can see over the steering wheel and out of the corner of each eye without turning your head.
  • Check the car’s turn signal and listen for its click-click; if you can’t hear it, then schedule an appointment with a physician.

Vision

All drivers, regardless of age, must see clearly, have good peripheral vision, and make quick judgments about distance. Vision impairment is the number-one reason why driver’s licenses are revoked.

  • Get regular eye exams to ensure your eyesight is protected against cataracts, macular degeneration and glaucoma.
  • Keep eyeglasses, mirrors and the windshield clean. Avoid wide-framed glasses as the bow can affect peripheral vision.
  • Judging distance often becomes more difficult with age. If this is a concern, then ensure you maintain safe distance between vehicles ahead of you on the road. Give yourself ample time to brake when you realize there is slowed traffic ahead.
  • Drive when daylight is strongest. Understand that during dusk and night-time more people have difficulty with vision. You may have trouble with oncoming headlight glare, setting sun, judging distance of brake lights ahead, and even animals darting across the road.

Hearing

Just like vision, it’s critical to have hearing be as acute as possible when behind the wheel. Sirens, horns and children’s voices are impossible to hear if music is blaring, windows are up and hearing is poor.

  • If you worked for many years at a job with loud noises, such as highway, music, aviation, or factory work, there’s a good chance your hearing acuity will decrease as you age.
  • Schedule regular check-ups at the doctor for vision and hearing.
  • If you wear hearing aids, keep tabs on battery life and ensure the devices are working.

Do these concerns apply to you? We welcome stories about your experience as a senior driver or with family members and friends who are losing their motor skills. Join the conversation with GJEL on Facebook and Twitter.