Today, we’re going to tackle one of those oh-so-sensitive subjects: senior citizens behind the wheel. Like many touchy issues, it’s one thing to deal with when it’s someone else — someone you know, your parents, or someone else’s parents, for instance — but as you creep ever closer to AARP eligibility yourself (or if you’re already there), it can start to hit home a lot more.
Even the most level-headed and sensible among us can find our mindset shifting from, “Wow, that guy is just too old to be driving,” to, “You can pry my keys from my cold, dead hands!” as we make the transition into our twilight years. And who can blame us? The ability to drive is the first true taste of adult independence many of us experience, and to have it taken away would be more than just an inconvenience — it would be a major blow to our dignity.
Any issues that older drivers face can be magnified in an RV. If failing eyesight or decreased cognitive abilities can cause tragedy in the blink of an eye behind the wheel of an automobile, just imagine the damage they can cause if the impaired driver is behind the wheel of a large recreational vehicle. Contemplate the ramifications of that kind of scenario for a moment, and it’s easy to see why the an elderly RVer’s ability to honestly assess his or her abilities behind the wheel is so important for accident prevention.
There are multiple factors to consider when determining one’s effectiveness behind the wheel while RVing. Here are a few questions that can help you assess your abilities and needs in relation to driving an RV — or any other vehicle, for that matter:
1. How is my eyesight?
Have you been having difficulty with your vision while driving? Has driving at night become more difficult for you? It’s important to make regularly scheduled visits to have your vision checked and to have modifications made to glasses or contacts, if necessary.
2. What kind of shape am I in?
The older you get, the more important it is to make sure you’re in good enough physical shape to drive. Joints become stiff and bones become brittle, both of which lead to an increased susceptibility to injury. Cardiovascular fitness, strength, and flexibility are important to keep you fit for driving. Consult your doctor about an appropriate fitness program for you.
3. How do my medications affect me?
It’s extremely important that you’re aware of how your medications affect you. Do they make you prone to fatigue, drowsiness, dizziness, or nausea? If you’ve just started taking a new medication, refrain from driving until you know how it affects you.
4. Am I being prudent in my preparation?
There are steps you can take to reduce the negative impact aging can have on your driving. Whenever possible, plan your route to minimize night driving, bad-weather driving, problematic road work areas, and high congestion. Plan your route ahead of time when possible.
5. Is there someone in my life I trust enough to tell me when it’s time to put it in park?
Ideally, you’ll know when it’s time to make the transition from RV driver to RV passenger. But sometimes we need a little nudge. Whether it’s a family member, a close friend, or a physician, you need someone in your life who knows you, your abilities, and your limitations well enough to be able to perform the difficult duty of telling you, “It’s time.”
Looking for more information and advice about senior citizens behind the wheel? Check out this article from the CDC. It mentions some positive facts and statistics related to elderly drivers, as well.
We would be remiss if we didn’t put it a shameless plug for our prouct here. Remember that a Safe-T-Plus steering control device can automatically stabilize your RV, enabling you to safely maneuver through an unexpected perilous road situation before you’re even aware of it. This makes it perfect for elderly RV drivers looking for every advantage they can find while behind the wheel!
What are your thoughts on elderly drivers behind the wheel?
For extra peace of mind and safety, install the Safe-T-Plus product that’s right for you.