TOPEKA -- AAA is encouraging senior drivers and their loved ones to be aware of warning signs that may indicate unsafe driving habits. According to AAA and the U.S. Census Bureau, in less than 10 years one in four licensed drivers will be age 65 and older. AAA strongly urges seniors and their families to actively assess driving mobility of the mature drivers in their lives to keep them, and others on the road, safe.
“Dents and scratches on cars, inability to remember directions and trouble seeing are just a few warning signs seniors and their families should keep in mind when assessing driving ability,” said Jim Hanni, executive vice president at AAA. “Monitoring driving habits and taking advantage of resources available can help seniors stay safe on the road.”
The following may be indicators a senior driver needs help behind the wheel:
* Check for scratches and bumps on the front and rear bumpers. Significant scratches, bruises and bumps on a senior’s car may be a sign they have difficulty turning their heads as they back out from parking spaces or that they are having trouble judging distances.
* Observe how well a senior remembers directions. Family members should frequently ride along with the senior drivers in their lives to see if they need reminders as to when to turn or how to get places. If a mature driver has trouble remembering how to get home, AAA recommends taking steps to finding alternate modes of transportation for the senior driver. Resources on how to approach this issue and begin the conversation can be found at AAASeniors.com
* Note where they sit in regards to the steering wheel. Senior drivers who are sitting right on top of the steering wheel may feel like they don’t have enough control or may be nervous while driving. This position is also dangerous because if the airbag is deployed, it may cause harm to the driver. Drivers should maintain at least ten inches of distance between their bodies and the steering wheel.
* Take note of where their eyes are scanning. The older drivers get, the longer it takes to read road signs and the harder it gets to see what’s on the road ahead, especially at night or in inclement weather. This can lead to missed turns and exits and even car accidents. These may be signs that the driver’s vision needs to be checked by an optometrist.