Healthy Aging

Are you an Old-fashioned Driver?

All forms of transportation need an update to accommodate the needs of the rapidly growing number of people ages 60 and older, according to a recent story in the NY Times. And that includes both cars and drivers. 

Even if you’ve been driving for years, the rules of the road are constantly evolving….and just when we become more vulnerable to crashes (18% of traffic fatalities involve people over 65) car innovations keep coming at us.  To keep yourself and others safe on the road, Senior Planet asked Bill Van Tassel, PhD, manager of the American Automobile Association’s (AAA) Driving Training Program, for essential driving updates for seniors. 

1. Learn about roundabouts.  

Roundabouts are becoming popular, Van Tassel says, because they tend to be safer than traditional four-way intersections.  “They eliminate the need for left-hand turns and reduce serious injuries and fatalities by as much as 75%,” he says. To enter roundabouts, yield to pedestrians and vehicles already in the circle and wait for a gap between cars. Once in the circle, drive slowly and yield to other drivers and pedestrians as you exit.

2. Merge with the zipper.

Unless there is a stop sign, don’t stop.  Instead look for gaps in traffic you can merge into—even if the entry is farther up the ramp than you’re used to. This type of zipper-like merging pattern keeps traffic moving better than a stop-and-start pattern. 

3. Hold the steering wheel at 9 and 3 o’clock.

Due to airbags, abandon the 10 and 2 o’clock position on the steering wheel you originally learned in favor of a symmetrical position. That way, if you get into an accident and the airbag inflates, your hands won’t fly into your face. 

4. Keep up with technology.

Today, we have stability control, antilock brakes and backup cameras, just to name a few innovations. “Make sure you know what safety technology is on your car and how to use it,” Van Tassel advises, “but don’t rely on it exclusively. You, the driver, are still the best safety feature in your car.” 

For more information, visit these online sources: 


Roadwise RX

Older Driver Safety Awareness Week


Are any of these tips news to you?  Do you have any tips to stay safer while you drive? Let us know in the comments!

Photo: Barna Bartis for Unsplash

Bio: Nancy Monson is a travel and wellness writer, artist and health coach. Connect with her on Instagram. 


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