As winter weather sweeps across the country, rain, ice, and snow are sneaking into the forecast, and fast! Here are some ways to help keep senior drivers safe on the roads this winter:
1) Plan ahead
Don’t wait until the last minute to check things like your antifreeze levels, windshield washer fluid, tires, and car battery (especially since cold weather reduces battery life, often below the standard 3-5 year mark.) It’s also a good idea to test your brakes, in a controlled environment, to see how long it takes them to stop on wet roads.
2) Save trips for the daytime
Since visibility is greatly reduced at dusk or dark, try to plan all errands and trips during the daylight hours. If you’re going on a long trip, make sure to tell someone where you’re going, when you’re leaving, and when you expect to arrive. And, if you absolutely must travel out after dark, don’t hesitate to ask a family member, friend, or neighbor for a ride.
3) Carry a cell phone – and know how to use it!
If you’re venturing out on the roads this winter, make sure to have a cell phone with you in the car, charged, and pre-programmed with emergency contacts. Cell phones are extremely handy for emergency situations, so be sure you know the bare-bones basics of how to operate yours, like how to turn it on, make a call, and answer a call. (Don’t have a cell phone? This list has some senior-friendly suggestions for every budget.)
4) Be ready
Make sure to keep some staples in your car, in case you get stuck and need to wait for help, including a blanket, flashlight, water, and snacks (especially if you have diabetes or other conditions that impact your blood sugar.) It’s also a good idea to keep your gas tank full as often as you can throughout the winter months.
Remember, if driving conditions are bad, there’s no shame in staying at home, off the roads. Enjoy the winter season, and above all, stay safe!