Ronald Agrella (@ronagrella)
(July 28, 2015)
Most people think they’re good drivers, even if their skills are showing signs of age. Take the quiz for an objective assessment.
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Have you been pulled over for a traffic violation?
Traffic tickets or even verbal warnings by police may reveal your driving skills are sputtering. The most common traffic citations among elderly drivers are failure to obey traffic signs and failure to yield the right of way, both of which may be indicators of impairment. Also, two or more driving tickets within the past two years, or an increase in insurance premiums, may also signal your driving skills are losing traction.
True or false: Other drivers honk or curse at me
Unfortunately, many seniors are the last ones to recognize their driving skills have declined. If you're on the receiving end of irate horn blowers and angry stares by other drivers, it may be a wakeup call.
How good is your vision (with correction if you need it)?
Most states require a minimum of 20/40 vision for a non-restricted license (some states, such as Georgia, require 20/60 vision or better). Check with your state Department of Motor Vehicles to learn about its vision standard, and have periodic eye exams to make sure you have the right prescription and meet the minimum standard. Some states impose restrictions if your vision only meets the minimum standard. If you do not meet it, you shouldn’t be on the road.
Do you have troublesome arthritis or stiff joints and muscles?
If you find it's hard to turn your head, steer the vehicle or apply the brakes, your ability to safely drive will be hampered. Talk with your doctor.
I sometimes get lost even when I’m near home or forget where I'm going.
Confusion about your whereabouts, particularly if you're driving in an area you're familiar with, may be a sign of early Alzheimer's disease or another type of dementia. Check with your doctor about these symptoms and whether you belong behind the wheel.
Have you gotten new dings, dents or scrapes on your vehicle lately?
Property damage claims increase for drivers over age 65, according to the insurance industry. Minor damage on your car may signal your driving skills have taken a wrong turn. If you back into the mailbox, bump into curbs while parking or scrape your car against branches or trees, it could mean you’re heading for a more serious accident down the road.
Do you take medications that could cause dizziness or drowsiness?
Drugs that may cause dizziness or drowsiness include certain antidepressants, blood pressure medicines, anti-seizure drugs, narcotics, sedatives and anti-anxiety medicines. It's important to discuss the effects of your medications with your doctor and pharmacist, along with potential problems from taking multiple types of medications.
Do you feel like other drivers are a menace?
Seniors who frequently complain about the other drivers' speed, sudden lane changes or other actions may be the ones who are the problem, according to the National Institute on Aging.
Are friends or family members concerned about your driving?
Friends’ and family members’ concerns about your driving skills should be taken seriously. If someone is worried enough to discuss the safety of your driving with you, it’s usually a good indication that there's an issue.
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