It’s that time of the year when we’re all out and about a lot more than we were five months ago! It’s also that time of the year when we’re traveling more on local roads and highways. Because of this, the Canada Safety Council identifies the second week of May as National Road Safety Week. This year, it falls on May 14-20.

For all drivers, it is an excellent time to remind ourselves to always have a safe ride home after consuming alcohol, to make sure we are following the speed limits, using our blinkers and simply abiding by all the rules of the road.

After all, being a confident, safe driver helps to keep passengers, pedestrians, cyclists, other drivers and ourselves free from harm and injury.

This is equally important for seniors; practicing road safety and being responsible drivers is essential and sets a high standard for younger people to follow.

Those of us who have a driver’s licence know how liberating it can be; we know how independent we feel with that tiny card in our wallets. Ask any 16-year-old who recently passed their driver’s test and is able to get from point a to point b without their parents driving them there whether they feel more independent or not.

“One of the things that seniors are most worried about is losing their independence,” said Jody Kehler, Senior Living Specialist. “Having to give up driving or losing their licence can be negative for some, but a relief for others. Many seniors recognize that if someone’s safety is at risk then it’s not worth the once-a-week trip to the coffee shop, especially when other means of transportation are available.”

Although seniors are experienced drivers, age-related changes can affect their driving skills. Vision or hearing loss or a loss in motor skills can have a negative impact on what is happening when they are behind the wheel. Delayed reaction times and impaired hand-eye coordination affect judgment, coordination, and concentration. That’s why it’s important for seniors to have their eyes and hearing checked on a yearly basis.

As well, it’s not just alcohol and drugs that affect motor skills, prescribed medications can also impact your driving skills. As a senior, it’s important to understand how your medications can affect your driving and to make sure you read the labels and follow the directions as prescribed.

Multi-tasking while driving is another big concern when road safety is being addressed. Results from studies and surveys have shown that many drivers admit to multi-tasking while driving. To be road safe, it is imperative to be free of distractions (i.e. eating, using your cell phone, engaged in deep conversations, adjusting the radio, etc.) and to keep your eyes on the road.

The safer you are, the safer everyone is around you.