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5 Things Older Drivers Can Teach Us about Driving Safely

5 Things Older Drivers Can Teach Us about Driving Safely

For years, people have worried about the effects of older drivers on the road. As people’s bodies ages and minds fade, some well-meaning individuals fret about whether seniors retain the mental capacity to drive safely and suddenly react to incidents on the road.

But while we may fret about seniors crashing their cars, we should never forget that teenagers and the young remain the group with the biggest chances of crashing their car. Rather than the young worrying about our senior population, perhaps it is the young who should attempt to learn something from how their elders drive. And while everyone drives differently, there are certain behaviors which older drivers do which others can seek to emulate.

Here are five such things which society as a whole can learn from older drivers on how to drive safely.

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1. Texting and Driving

You know not to do this. There are laws against not doing this. Nevertheless, young adults and teens remain the group most likely to text and drive at the same time.

Even if you are not texting, distracted driving as a whole is a dangerous habit which keeps your mind off the road. So many accidents occur precisely because someone’s mind lapses while they think about something else and do not realize they have driven into a dangerous situation until it is too late. Even if your hands are free, actions such as holding a conversation through speaker phones takes your mind off the road and increases the chances of an accident.

Older people are much less likely to text and drive at the young. Learn from them and understand that you can wait to respond to that text.

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2. Appropriate Driver Behavior

It is commonly observed that young people think that they are invincible and take risks which end up increasing the chances of an accident. Such examples of behavior include speeding and running red lights. The former is particularly noticeable because the elderly are fairly notorious for driving slower than average. This behavior exists due to their slower reaction times and decreased the ability to notice pedestrians.

But while many of us may scream and shake in rage at that woman driving 20 mph under the speed limit, we all could learn to slow down on the road. Most of the time, speeding excessively is only going to get you to arrive at your destination only a few minutes earlier. It is not worth the additional risk.

3. Knowing Where to Go

Once upon a time, people did not drive with GPS. They planned where to go while looking at these things called “maps.”

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There is no denying that technology has made things more convenient. But how many times have you been stuck in a situation where the GPS tells you to make a turn you did not expect, which causes you to try and cut across multiple lanes and do something crazy? This sort of behavior happens precisely because we have grown more accustomed towards relying on the GPS instead of trying to navigate ourselves.

Fortunately, technology can help you scout the area you are trying to go to, and Google Maps can show what streets are in the area. Take the time to prepare beforehand just like people did 50 years ago instead of just blindly depending on technology.

4. Sleeping

Not every lesson from the elderly has to be positive. Older people often suffer from increased sleeping problems, are tired more often, and just generally sleep less.

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Unfortunately, sleep deprivation is one of the primary causes of automobile accidents, and sleeping while tired is about as bad as sleeping while drunk. You lose alertness and the ability to react to sudden events while tired. This loss in alertness combined with the slower reactions of seniors can often pose a problem.

If you are extremely tired but have to go somewhere, try to find an alternative such as being driven by a friend. While there is a lot which we can seek to emulate from older drivers, we should also try to avoid their example of not sleeping enough.

5. Driving Experience

The best way to get better at driving is to be on the road. While older drivers often decrease their chances of an accident through slowing down and practicing good driver behavior, there is also the fact that they know the road better than a teenager. Driving over and over can help you do a better job merging into lanes, parallel parking, and knowing what to expect from your fellow drivers.

Always be aware, always prepare before it is time for you to go anywhere, and this will remove much of the risks which come with driving. And you can reduce that risk by looking at how our elders drive, emulating what they do right, and seeking to improve from their mistakes.

Featured photo credit: Boudewijn Berends via flic.kr

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Last Updated on September 10, 2018

Overcoming The Pain Of A Breakup: 3 Suggestions Based On Science

Overcoming The Pain Of A Breakup: 3 Suggestions Based On Science

We thought that the expression ‘broken heart’ was just a metaphor, but science is telling us that it is not: breakups and rejections do cause physical pain. When a group of psychologists asked research participants to look at images of their ex-partners who broke up with them, researchers found that the same brain areas that are activated by physical pain are also activated by looking at images of ex-partners. Looking at images of our ex is a painful experience, literally.[1].

Given that the effect of rejections and breakups is the same as the effect of physical pain, scientists have speculated on whether the practices that reduce physical pain could be used to reduce the emotional pain that follows from breakups and rejections. In a study on whether painkillers reduce the emotional pain caused by a breakup, researchers found that painkillers did help. Individuals who took painkillers were better able to deal with their breakup. Tamar Cohen wrote that “A simple dose of paracetamol could help ease the pain of a broken heart.”[2]

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Just like painkillers can be used to ease the pain of a broken heart, other practices that ease physical pain can also be used to ease the pain of rejections and breakups. Three of these scientifically validated practices are presented in this article.

Looking at images of loved ones

While images of ex-partners stimulate the pain neuro-circuitry in our brain, images of loved ones activate a different circuitry. Looking at images of people who care about us increases the release of oxytocin in our body. Oxytocin, or the “cuddle hormone,” is the hormone that our body relies on to induce in us a soothing feeling of tranquility, even when we are under high stress and pain.

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In fact, oxytocin was found to have a crucial role as a mother is giving birth to her baby. Despite the extreme pain that a mother has to endure during delivery, the high level of oxytocin secreted by her body transforms pain into pleasure. Mariem Melainine notes that, “Oxytocin levels are usually at their peak during delivery, which promotes a sense of euphoria in the mother and helps her develop a stronger bond with her baby.”[3]

Whenever you feel tempted to look at images of your ex-partner, log into your Facebook page and start browsing images of your loved ones. As Eva Ritvo, M.D. notes, “Facebook fools our brain into believing that loved ones surround us, which historically was essential to our survival. The human brain, because it evolved thousands of years before photography, fails on many levels to recognize the difference between pictures and people”[4]

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Exercise

Endorphins are neurotransmitters that reduce our perception of pain. When our body is high on endorphins, painful sensations are kept outside of conscious awareness. It was found that exercise causes endorphins to be secreted in the brain and as a result produce a feeling of power, as psychologist Alex Korb noted in his book: “Exercise causes your brain to release endorphins, neurotransmitters that act on your neurons like opiates (such as morphine or Vicodin) by sending a neural signal to reduce pain and provide anxiety relief.”[5] By inhibiting pain from being transmitted to our brain, exercise acts as a powerful antidote to the pain caused by rejections and breakups.

Meditation

Jon Kabat Zinn, a doctor who pioneered the use of mindfulness meditation therapy for patients with chronic pain, has argued that it is not pain itself that is harmful to our mental health, rather, it is the way we react to pain. When we react to pain with irritation, frustration, and self-pity, more pain is generated, and we enter a never ending spiral of painful thoughts and sensations.

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In order to disrupt the domino effect caused by reacting to pain with pain, Kabat Zinn and other proponents of mindfulness meditation therapy have suggested reacting to pain through nonjudgmental contemplation and acceptance. By practicing meditation on a daily basis and getting used to the habit of paying attention to the sensations generated by our body (including the painful ones and by observing these sensations nonjudgmentally and with compassion) our brain develops the habit of reacting to pain with grace and patience.

When you find yourself thinking about a recent breakup or a recent rejection, close your eyes and pay attention to the sensations produced by your body. Take deep breaths and as you are feeling the sensations produced by your body, distance yourself from them, and observe them without judgment and with compassion. If your brain starts wandering and gets distracted, gently bring back your compassionate nonjudgmental attention to your body. Try to do this exercise for one minute and gradually increase its duration.

With consistent practice, nonjudgmental acceptance will become our default reaction to breakups, rejections, and other disappointments that we experience in life. Every rejection and every breakup teaches us great lessons about relationships and about ourselves.

Featured photo credit: condesign via pixabay.com

Reference

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