Kiwis have to renew our licences once we reach our 75th birthday then again at 80 and every two years after that. The licence renewal includes getting a medical certificate, then depending on your doctor’s recommendation you may also have to do an on road safety test.
The ability to drive ourselves and get out and about plays such an important role in maintaining our sense of self-reliance and independence as we age. Losing your license can be a huge blow to not just your self-confidence, but potentially your health as well. Why?
For many people, being unable to drive themselves leads to social isolation, anxiety, and depression. You don’t want to burden a family member or friend with the task of helping you get places like to a lunch date or the gym so you start limiting your time out of the house and avoiding social gatherings. This worsens feelings of loneliness and can potentially lead to other unhealthy habits like eating a poor diet and not exercising.
Who most often pays the price when you’re no longer able to drive? You. But it doesn’t have to be that way. With important health and safety reminders, helpful tips, and these best practices you can successfully behind the wheel longer:
Your own physical and mental health can have a huge impact on your ability to drive safely. Don’t miss these health reminders:
- Get your vision and hearing checked regularly – age-related vision and hearing loss can impair your ability to drive and lead to an accident or worse
- Use car transfer devices like swivel seats, car caddies, or car canes to simplify getting in and out of the car and prevent back strain and falls. Check out the best swivel seats here.
- Check prescription and over-the-counter medicines you are taking for side effects which may impair your driving
- Remember to be on alert for flashing lights and emergency vehicles on the road, especially if you are hard of hearing
- Do not drive when you are sleep deprived, tired, or stressed as those feelings can inhibit your reflexes and potentially impair your driving
A quick refresh on basic driver safety reminders can also help you stay behind the wheel for a long time:
- Avoid driving in inclement weather, and avoid running errands or meeting friends during peak traffic periods of the day.
- Try and stick with streets and driving areas which are familiar to you and avoid new routes, scenic routes, and unknown directions.
- Limit distractions when behind the wheel like changing radio stations music, fiddling with the sat nav or talking to passengers.
- Make sure to clean windows, rear and side view mirrors, and your windshield regularly to remove spots that might limit your visibility or cause a glare when driving.
- Stay up to date on oil changes and tune-ups to avoid any unwanted car trouble on the road.
- Consider taking a defensive driving class for a quick refresher on skills and knowledge that can make you a smarter, safer driver, i.e. knowing how to identify potential hazards on the road.
If you have had to forfeit your license due to an accident or medical condition, that doesn’t mean the end of the world. While discouraging, there are still plenty of positive actions you can take to stay active and get out of the house.
Group all your errands together when you ask for a ride from a neighbour or family member (pharmacy, groceries, etc) so you can accomplish more at once and don’t need multiple rides
Use ridesharing services like Chariot or CarpoolWorld to find fast, reliable transportation at lower rates than a cab
Find out if local senior programs offer shuttles or free ride-sharing services to doctor’s appointments, etc.
Invite friends to your house for a lunch date or card game instead of meeting them at a restaurant
Cycle or walk to nearby destinations when able – not only do you get your errand run, but you get some much-needed exercise too!