As people age, loss of visual acuity, diminished hearing and slower reaction times can all affect driving skills. In addition, mature adult drivers are more likely to be taking medication on a regular basis, many of which can affect driving ability.
Even if vision is normal, their eyes lose some contrast sensitivity (the ability to detect sharp borders and slight changes in lighting), which is critical to driving. Loss of contrast sensitivity can make it difficult – at night and on very bright days – to see road dividers and hazards in unlit areas. Likewise, hearing loss makes drivers less able to recognize important cues – honking horns, screeching tires and emergency sirens.
Despite these potential problems, mature adults value the independence and mobility that their cars provide. Many compensate by making changes in their driving habits. They may limit their driving to daytime hours, avoid driving in inclement weather or bypass expressways.
In addition, new technological designs of vehicle parts have made driving safer for all age groups. For instance, Wagner TruView headlamps provide a truer, whiter light that delivers exceptional forward visibility without creating the glare commonly associated with high-intensity discharge (HID) headlamps. “More than 5,000 motorists have filed complaints with the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration about HID headlamps, but the glare is especially difficult for older drivers, who are more likely to have sensitivity to vision-related issues,” said Crystal Longest, brand manger of Wagner Lighting at Federal-Mogul Corporation. “TruView headlamps provide improved visibility for drivers without subjecting others on the road to offensive glare.”
Technological advances that improve driver safety coupled with extra precautions will ensure a more pleasant driving experience for people of all ages. Here are some safety tips:
* Allow plenty of time to get to your destination, and know where you’re going -- map your route out ahead of time.
* Take a refresher driving course; for example AARP’s “55-Alive” class teaches people 50 and over about defensive driving.
* Be alert and give yourself plenty of room to react; a three-second safety cushion between you and the car in front of you is a good guideline to follow.
* If you are uneasy in heavy traffic, avoid driving during peak hours.
* Get regular check-ups for hearing and vision; ask your doctor about your medications’ effects on your driving ability.
* Avoid potential distractions while driving (radio, cell phones, conversations with passengers, eating, etc.).
Wagner TruView headlamps are available at leading automotive parts stores and repair shops across the United States and Canada. For more information, visit www.federal-mogul.com.