SHERIDAN — Men and women know that adjustments must be made as they get older. Athletes nearing their golden years may not be able to push themselves as hard at the gym as they once did. Professionals nearing retirement age might not be able to pull long hours at the office like they used to.
But aging affects more than just work and play. As men and women age, their ability to perform everyday tasks, including driving, may diminish as well.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration notes that, as people age, certain changes they experience can affect their ability to safely operate an automobile.
Changes in eyesight, physical fitness and reflexes may require aging drivers to reassess their skills behind the wheel. The NHTSA notes that drivers can ask themselves the following questions as they try to assess their driving abilities.
How is my eyesight?
The American Optometric Association notes that vision changes naturally occur as a person ages. Such changes do not necessarily mean drivers have to give up the keys to their vehicles. In fact, they may just require more routine eye examinations.
The NHTSA says having trouble reading signs easily, recognizing someone from across the street, seeing streets signs and pedestrians, and handling headlight glare are common signs of age-related eye problems.
Can I control my vehicle?
Age-related loss of strength, coordination and flexibility can make it hard for aging men and women to control their vehicles. Some signs that drivers might be having trouble controlling their vehicles include trouble looking over shoulders to change lanes, difficulty moving foot from the gas pedal to the brake pedal and difficulty turning the steering wheel.
Pain in the knees, legs or ankles also can make it difficult for drivers to control their vehicles.
Does driving make me nervous, scared or overwhelmed?
Drivers who feel confused by traffic signs and traffic (including pedestrian traffic) should stop driving until they can discuss the issue with their physicians.
Medication can sometimes make drivers feel sleepy or confused, and some aging drivers even find themselves overwhelmed in what many consider otherwise normal driving situations.
Are my loved ones concerned about my driving?
Aging drivers may feel offended when family members question their ability to drive. However, the NHTSA notes that sometimes other people notice things about a person’s driving that the person does not. The concern expressed by loved ones should not be taken lightly.
Do I drive with passengers?
Drivers who routinely drive with passengers, especially young children, carry extra responsibility. As a result, such drivers owe it to themselves and their passengers to honestly assess their driving abilities.
Various remedies can address age-related driving issues, and drivers should discuss them with their doctors the moment they feel as though their skills behind the wheel are starting to diminish.