Still, experts say, our driving skills inevitably change as we age. With care and caution, older drivers can adapt to their changing abilities and continue to enjoy one of the most prized elements of the American dream: their driving privileges.
Here are some tips for boomers looking to make the most of their driving enjoyment:
Keep Your Vehicle and Yourself Finely Tuned
Responsible driving calls for two well-cared-for machines – the vehicle and the driver. If you’re planning a road trip, make sure your vehicle maintenance is up-to-date. Pay special attention to common problems that can cause roadside breakdowns, such as coolant systems and tire integrity. It’s a good idea to get the vehicle serviced before taking it on a long trip.
Likewise, make sure you’re in fine tune as well. Have your hearing and vision regularly checked – at least twice a year. If you wear glasses, avoid taking a long driving trip within the first few weeks of getting a new pair; you’ll need time to adjust to how the new prescription affects your vision. Be sure you’re well rested, not just the night before your trip but for several days prior. Check with your doctor or pharmacist to determine if any medications you’re taking might cause fatigue or impair your driving.
Plan and Prepare
No one enjoys sitting in traffic; it’s annoying at best. To maximize your driving enjoyment, avoid high-traffic hours and locales where commuters fill the roads. Drive during quieter road times and avoid times when visibility is naturally poorer. Plan to get on the road after the morning rush ends – typically 9 a.m. in most urban areas – and wrap up your day’s travels just before the evening rush starts. In most cities or suburbs, that can be as early as 4 p.m.
Pre-plan your route and use resources like Traffic.com to get the most up-to-date traffic information on your course of travel. Log on before leaving home (or your hotel room, since most hotels now offer guests free Internet access) and check driving conditions along your route. You can also access the Traffic.com mobile Web site from your Web-equipped cell phone at http://mobi.traffic.com, or by calling the (866) MY-TRAFC (866-698-7232) traffic hotline.
Be sure to give your planned route and schedule to a family member or friend who’ll be staying home. Agree to regular check in times so that someone will always know where you are and how your trip is progressing.
Strength in Numbers
Avoid driving alone whenever possible. Sharing the journey with another driver can help you avoid driving fatigue, and make the trip more enjoyable. Caravanning with one or more other vehicles also enhances the road trip experience and you’ll have a back-up vehicle in case of emergency.