If you’re over age 60, driving may be getting riskier than you think.

Research shows that aging affects our ability to see moving objects while we ourselves are in motion — when driving, for example — much sooner than our ability to see stationary objects. Age-related eye diseases also can compromise vision, even before we are aware of symptoms.

Our driving skills can be further challenged after age 60 because we also lose some of our peripheral vision and our reaction time slows.

Don’t use your cell phone while driving. This is a bad idea at any age. But older drivers particularly are slower to react to a driving emergency, even without the distraction of a cell phone.

Avoid driving on unfamiliar streets at night. Traffic death rates are three times higher at night than during the day. As aging Baby Boomers continue to take to the roads at night — in greater numbers than their parents — the risk of fatal crashes is expected to increase substantially.

Even if you wear eyeglasses that seem to work well, you may not be equipped for glare, hard-to-read signs and the other unique challenges of twilight and nighttime driving. For these reasons, you should avoid routes with poor lighting, irregular twists and poor signage.

Assess your driving ability based on reactions of others. Honking horns, worried loved ones, warnings from police and blinding headlights suggest rethinking where and for how long you should drive.

If you are having difficulty, limit yourself to shorter trips, preferably during daylight and when weather conditions are favourable. Keep your car in good repair, plan extra time for travel and stay the recommended distance behind the vehicle in front of you.

Reduce your speed when driving at night. As we get older, our pupils get smaller and don’t dilate as quickly in the dark. Because of this and other normal age-related changes, only about one-third as much ambient light reaches the retina of the eye of a person who is 60 years old, compared with the eye of a 20-year-old. This loss of light transmittance can affect the reaction time of older drivers at night.

Very important: Always make sure you discuss and make decisions about your eye care based upon a formal appointment with your optician.

For more information and to book and eye examination please contact us:

McKenna & Scott Pinelands

Tel: 021 531 1953