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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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