Driver Alert 
A publication by the Auto Safety Alliance 
Volume 1  November 1997  Issue 1 

Driving after
age 55?

How to stay safe 
when you drive

by Christine Miller

Adults who stay healthy have 
fewer crashes. 


Did you know that the facilities necessary for safe driving such as vision, reflexes, flexibility, and hearing begin to deteriorate around the age of 55, with even a greater loss after 75? Yes, growing older is inevitable. It happens to everyone, but older drivers don't have to take it lying down. Being aware of the problems and compensating for them is half the battle. 

Eyes change with age. They lose the ability to focus quickly. Peripheral vision narrows and the retina becomes less sensitive to light. Compensate by getting regular eye exams; if you have trouble with night driving, limit your driving to daytime hours. Turn your head frequently to compensate for diminished peripheral vision. Add a larger rearview mirror. Try and keep distraction to a minimum. 

Fitness is another way to ensure your competence at driving. Physical activity is needed to keep a person strong and flexible for those quick reactions needed while driving. Staying mentally active is a good tool. Keep your mind alert and flexible. Learning a new skill or doing jigsaw puzzles sharpens the mind. 

Medication and driving 
Medication can impair driving by making the driver drowsy or distracted. Read the fine print on any medication, whether it be an over-the-counter drug or a prescription medication. Avoid driving when you first start taking a new medication, as side effects are often worse for the first few days. If any medication makes you feel sleepy or disoriented, don't drive. 

To be a safe driver, paying attention to road conditions and your own body changes is essential. A person's chronological age is not a good predictor of driving ability. What counts on the road is performance.
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