After more than a year of working, learning, exercising, and socializing virtually from home, many people may find their skill and comfort behind the wheel have diminished. Before considering a summer road trip, older adults who are feeling less confident about their driving or haven’t figured out how all the bells and whistles of new car technology work can access many workshops and classes to help make driving safer and less stressful.
Many people are experiencing anxiety about life returning to “normal” after the forced isolation of a global pandemic. But by taking gradual steps to reacclimate to driving in traffic or across long distances, the experience can be a liberating rather than fearful one. According to a recent Good Housekeeping UK article, it takes time to get your judgment of speed and distance back. Begin with getting familiar with the vehicle’s controls and taking short trips in local areas. If a family member provides comfort, invite them to join you; and remember to silence phones to avoid distractions.
Vehicles that have sat unused for long periods of time may need maintenance to ensure they are in safe working order. Most garages have online appointment bookings to check that tires, lights, and brakes are all functioning properly. If the vehicle has been sitting outdoors, it may need a good wash to allow for proper vision through the windscreens.
Before hitting the wide-open road, make sure you have had a good night’s sleep and if you are worried about the drive, try a short walk outdoors or brief meditation first to help clear your mind. Planning your route in advance and entering your destination into a navigation system can also help alleviate anxiety. Don’t forget to breathe – taking measured deep breaths can lessen panic and help drivers stay calm on the road. Check out I Am Road Smart to learn more.
AARP has created Smart DriverTek online workshops to help older drivers learn how new technologies like blind-spot detection systems, lane-departure warning systems, and forward-collision warning systems work. Some are designed specifically for women and are taught by women.
The Roadwise Driver course from AAA can be taken online or in a classroom and helps seniors refresh their driving and vehicle knowledge and stay safer on the road longer. The training covers driving techniques, new vehicle technology and topics like alcohol and medications, visibility, time and space, distractions, drowsiness, aggressive driving and road rage. Learn more here.
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