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4 Seniors: Helping seniors extend their driving years

OKLAHOMA CITY – With more than 40 million licensed drivers in the U.S. over the age of 65, there are lots of resources available today to help keep older drivers safe and behind the wheel longer.

Here are some simple steps you can take to help keep you, or your elderly loved one safe while driving:

Get your eyes checked: Because about 90 percent of the information necessary to drive is received through our eyes, getting your eyes checked every year to be sure your vision and eyewear is up to par is an important first step.

Check your meds: Do you take any medicine or combination of medicines that make you sleepy, light-headed or loopy? If so, make a list of all your medications (prescription and over-the-counter) and dietary supplements, and take it to your doctor or pharmacist for a drug review. You can also get help with this online at RoadwiseRX.com.

Evaluate their driving: If you’re worried about an aging parent’s driving, to stay on top of any potential driving issues, you should take a ride with him or her from time-to-time watching for problem areas, such as: Do they drive at inappropriate speeds, tailgate or drift between lanes? Do they have difficulty seeing, backing up or changing lanes? Do they react slowly, get confused easily or make poor driving decisions? For more tips, see the National Caregivers Library driving assessment checklist at SeniorDriverChecklist.org.

If your loved one needs a more thorough evaluation, you can turn to a driver rehabilitation specialist who’s trained to evaluate older drivers. This type of assessment typically costs between $100 and $200. To locate a professional in your area, visit AOTA.org/older-driver or ADED.net.

Take a refresher course: AAA and AARP both have older driver refresher courses that can help tune-up your driving skills, and learn how to adjust for slower reflexes, weaker vision and other age-related changes that affect driving. Taking a class may also earn you a discount on your auto insurance. To locate a class, contact your local AAA (AAA.com), or AARP (AARP.org/drive, 888-227-7669). Most courses cost around $15 to $30 and can be taken in the classroom or online.

Another good resource to look into is CarFit. This is a free assessment program that will help you adjust your vehicle for a better fit, making it easier and safer to drive. CarFit events are held around the country in select locations. See Car-Fit.org to look for one near you.

Make some adjustments: Recognizing your driving vulnerabilities and making small changes on when and where you drive can go a long way in keeping you safe and driving longer. Adjustments may include not driving after dark or during rush hour traffic, avoiding major highways or other busy roads, and not driving in poor weather conditions.

For more tips, visit AAA Senior Driving at SeniorDriving.AAA.com.

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