Safe driving habits is as much a physical activity as it is a mental one. In addition to physical and flexibility, coordination is required for safe driving. Together, these abilities define your motor skills.
As you get older, flexibility decreases, which means you may have to reposition mirrors or make a more conscious effort to turn from the waist to see behind you.
Strength can make a difference in safe driving as well. For example, a car without power steering or power brakes may have been a cinch to control when you were 25, but these days, making a tight turn or quickly stepping on the brakes can be more of a challenge due to more limited motor skills.
Your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle depends, in large part, on motor skills used to reach for and buckle your safety belt, turn to check blind spots, grip and control the steering wheel, depress the correct foot pedals and operate other controls such as those for headlights and windshield wipers.
To compensate the effects of aging on motor skills, you can:
- Improve your flexibility, which will help prevent injuries and excessive fatigue and allow you to move with greater ease.
- Select a vehicle with senior-friendly features, such as a low door threshold, to make it easier to enter and exit your vehicle, or a thicker steering wheel that requires less hand and wrist strength to use.
- Enhance the “fit” between you and your vehicle by adjusting mirrors to minimize blind spots and adjusting your seat so you can reach and fully depress foot pedals without sitting too close to your vehicle’s airbag.