By Julie E. Lee
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently released some encouraging news: today's drivers age 70 and older are less likely to be involved in crashes than previous generations. If they do crash, they are also less likely to be killed or seriously injured. The Institute claims this is a result of safer cars and healthier individuals.
Maintaining a healthy mental and physical state is critical to all aspects of our lives. The same is true for our driving ability. Luckily, there 5 easy habits all drivers can incorporate into their daily routines to help stay sharp behind the wheel. Check out the tips below.
- Exercise your brain. Daily brain training and variety can help drivers maintain crucial skills like reaction time, problem solving and memory. A study funded by the National Institute of Health recently found that people who had cognitive training for memory, reasoning or speed of processing had 50 percent fewer car accidents than those in the control group. You can access a variety of brain fitness activities at http://www.aarp.org/home-family/getting-around/driving-resource-center/info-08-2013/exercise-for-safety.html.
- Exercise your body. We all know exercise is good for us but did you know it could help you become a better driver? Our partners, The Hartford Center for Mature Market Excellence and MIT AgeLab, have found that daily exercise helps improve driving-related activities like turning your head and body to look when backing up and getting in and out of the car.
- Monitor drug interactions. Medications can interact with each other and the more medications we take, the more likely this becomes. Some of these interactions may influence our driving. This online tool will tell you if and how your medications and supplements interact. Remember that you should always consult with your doctor about any medical concerns.
- Know the latest rules of the road. Traffic laws are constantly changing and vary by state. Take this quiz to check how much you know!
- Get a good night's sleep. Getting enough rest is a key part of a healthy lifestyle. When you are tired your reaction time slows down, your judgment and vision may not be as sharp, your attention may wander, and you may have problems with processing information.
To find more free and fun resources on staying sharp behind the wheel, check out AARP Driver Safety's Driving Resource Center. You may also consider taking the AARP Smart Driver Course—AARP Driver Safety’s flagship offering and the nation’s first and largest refresher course designed specifically for older drivers. The AARP Smart Driver Course is available in a classroom and online, in both English and Spanish. In some states, you may even be eligible for a multi-year insurance discount upon completion of the course.*
For more information, visit www.aarp.org/safedriving or call 1-888-AARP-NOW (1-888-227-7669).
*The insurance premium discount is not available in all states for the online or the classroom versions of the course. Please consult your insurance agent for further details.
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Julie E. Lee is Vice President and National Director of AARP Driver Safety in the Education and Outreach group at AARP. She directs the largest driver improvement course in America designed for drivers age 50 and older. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .