Motoring magazine Drive, published by Automobile Association of Malaysia, in its May/June issue, listed five common ageing factors that can affect a person’s driving performance – loss of visual clarity, diminished hearing, changes in physical strength, psychological changes and slower reaction time.The magazine says that loss of vision, hearing and physical strength can happen so gradually that the symptoms go unnoticed until older drivers are faced with an emergency that they are no longer able to handle.
However, by being aware of these age-related changes and by learning how these factors can affect their driving, older motorists can learn to compensate for these losses and continue to become better drivers.
Among the suggestions are:
For sensitivity to the sun, wear sunglasses designed to reduce glare. They should also limit night driving.
Decreased peripheral vision can lead to failure to yield to right-of-way. Avoid wearing eyeglass frames with wide and heavy temples for it can restrict side vision. Drivers can compensate for loss of side vision by moving the head and eyes left to right several times.
Blind spots – always turn and glance over the shoulder before changing lanes.
When entering/leaving highways, accelerate to the speed of traffic and enter the highway by merging into traffic at the safest point.
Increase the distance between you and the car in front to allow you more time to react in any situation.
Don’t consume alcohol when driving. The ageing process slows down the metabolism rate and affects the elimination of alcohol from the body. About 50% of all medications regularly taken by older persons can interact with alcohol, causing serious adverse reactions.
The elderly should not be discriminated from driving if they are healthy. They should be aware of their abilities or lack of abilities and compensate them to ensure their safety as well as that of other road users. Family members and friends should be supportive of them and accompany them when necessary as well as offer observations and advice.