Being a safe driver is always an important skill to maintain, but it is even more critical as you get older. Keep your safe driving skills intact with these useful tips.
As you or a loved one reach the golden years, you will see lifestyle changes. People have fewer responsibilities, and some may lose the desire to keep driving or even continue owning a car. For some seniors, their car is a lifeline to independence and represents the freedom of mobility.
If you or your loved one want to continue driving as a senior, it is important to consider some basics to continue safe driving.
Different states will have unique laws about license renewal for senior citizens. Some states will only require the normal timespan between license renewals, but others may have a special law for residents over a certain age. In Illinois, for example, you need to take a road test and eye exam at the age of 75 (see rules for each state at the end of this article).
Some states do not have any laws in place for senior citizen license renewal. Make sure to check your state's department of motor vehicles for all the rules in your state.
Keep Training Your Reflexes
Driving events can happen in the blink of an eye, meaning you need to keep your reaction time quick and ready for anything. Regular physical activity can help your brain and body get the movement it needs to stay active. Your reaction time and reflexes naturally slow down with age, which can make it incredibly difficult to maintain steady reflexes. If this is the case, you must compensate for your slow reaction time while driving.
Always stay at least one car's length behind the vehicle in front of you, and drive at a comfortable pace. It is more difficult to stop or react quickly when driving fast, so stick to the backroads instead of highways whenever possible.
Accessible Parking Permit Qualifications
This next safety tip is suitable for both senior citizens and caretakers of seniors alike. Accessible parking, which is always marked by a blue and white wheelchair symbol known as the International Symbol of Access, isn't just reserved for individuals in wheelchairs.
Any disability that affects your mobility may qualify you for a disability parking pass. Caretakers can use the registered parking placard for passengers with disabilities, though they may only use it when they are in the vehicle. Different types of accessible parking spots exist [M1] for those with different needs, such as wheelchair-accessible aisles or ramps. Make life easier for yourself by registering for an accessible parking permit and reducing the amount of time you spend near traffic in a busy parking lot.
Driving Means Being Prepared for Anything
You can prepare for some situations ahead of time when driving, such as medication side-effects or migraines, but others are entirely unpredictable. Keep a stocked first-aid kit in your dashboard and always make sure to charge your phone before you drive. Avoid driving at night to avoid night-blindness or light sensitivity from the bright headlights. The most important part of safe driving as a senior and what to know is to safely pull off to the side of the road whenever you feel ill. Don't push your limits, especially in a moving vehicle.
If you are an older driver with a medical condition or a concerned caregiver, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has numerous safer driving resources you should consider.
Several medical conditions can affect a person's driving. The resources will help you and your loved one navigate these issues and driving and also provide information about available transportation alternatives.
Senior Driving Laws by State
These are a few highlighted age-specific laws for senior drivers. Some rules start prior to age 60. Be sure to check with your state's DMV for additional information.
- Alabama – No specific rules for senior drivers in Alabama.
- Alaska – At age 69, drivers in Alaska must pass a vision test and renew their license in person.
- Arizona – At age 65, drivers in Arizona must renew their licenses in person and pass a vision test.
- Arkansas – No special rules for senior drivers in Arkansas.
- California – Starting at age 70, drivers in California must apply for all license renewals in person.
- Colorado – At age 61, a driver's license must be renewed every five years instead of ten years.
- Connecticut – Starting at age 65, a senior may choose to renew their license every two years, saving them money.
- Delaware – No special rules for senior drivers in Delaware.
- District of Columbia – At age 70, a driver must have a certification of physical and mental competence signed by their doctor. License renewals must be completed in person as well.
- Florida – Once a person reaches age 80, the license renewal term is every six years.
- Georgia – Once a person reaches age 65, senior drivers must pass a vision test every two years.
- Hawaii – License renewals are every two years starting at age 72 instead of every eight years.
- Idaho – Starting at age 63, a driver's license renewal is every four years.
- Illinois – Starting at age 75, a driver must renew their license in person and take a road test.
- Indiana – Once a driver reaches the age of 70, license renewal is required in person.
- Iowa – License renewals are every two years starting at age 70.
- Kansas – License renewals are every four years starting at age 65.
- Kentucky – No special driving requirements for senior drivers in Kentucky.
- Louisiana – License renewals must be done in person starting at age 70
- Maine – More frequent vision testing starts at age 40. License renewals are every four years, beginning at age 65.
- Maryland – Once you reach age 40, an eye doctor's report is required as part of the license renewal.
- Massachusetts – License renewals must be completed in person starting at age 75.
- Michigan – No special driving requirements for senior drivers in Michigan.
- Minnesota – No special driving requirements for senior drivers in Minnesota.
- Mississippi – No special requirements for senior drivers in Mississippi.
- Missouri – License renewals are every three years starting at age 70.
- Montana – License renewals must be in person every four years starting at age 75.
- Nebraska – No special requirements for senior drivers in Nebraska.
- Nevada – Starting at age 65, you must renew your license every four years.
- New Hampshire – No special driving requirements for seniors in New Hampshire.
- New Jersey – No special requirements for senior drivers in New Jersey.
- New Mexico – Starting at age 67, license renewals are every four years and annually starting at 75.
- New York – No special requirements for senior drivers in New York.
- North Carolina – Starting at age 66, drivers must renew their licenses every five years.
- North Dakota – Starting at age 78, drivers must renew their licenses every four years.
- Ohio – There are no special requirements for senior drivers in Ohio.
- Oklahoma – There are no special driving requirements for seniors in Oklahoma.
- Oregon – Once you hit age 50, drivers must pass a vision test every eight years.
- Pennsylvania – Seniors have the choice to renew their licenses every two years.
- Rhode Island – At age 75, drivers must renew their licenses in person every two years.
- South Carolina – License renewal is every five years starting at 65.
- South Dakota – Starting at age 65, drivers must provide an eye doctor's statement.
- Tennessee – There are no special requirements for senior drivers in Tennessee.
- Texas – Once you hit age 79, drivers must apply for license renewal in person. License renewals are every two years, starting at age 85.
- Utah – No special requirements for senior drivers in Utah.
- Vermont – No special requirements for senior drivers in Vermont.
- Virginia – Once you hit age 75, drivers must renew their licenses every five years.
- Washington – Drivers must apply in person for a license renewal starting at 70.
- West Virginia – No special requirements for senior drivers in West Virginia.
- Wisconsin – No special requirements for senior drivers in Wisconsin.
- Wyoming – No special requirements for senior drivers in Wyoming.
Taking Away the Keys
At some point, you may have to consider taking away the keys from your Mom or Dad. Perhaps, if you are a senior or a person with health issues or disabilities, you may think that you no longer should be driving. The decision to stop driving is always difficult since it removes independence and creates a dependency on others.
Aging and health problems do not always mix well with the ability to drive safely. Being honest and upfront is essential for everyone in the family. Read more by clicking here.
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