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For older drivers willing to stretch and exercise, accidents can be avoided

For older drivers, simple steps like exercise and stretching can mean the difference between “being old” and being old without the right to drive.

New research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety finds that increased fatigue and poor physical functioning are leading factors that can result in older adults having to limit driving.

AAA commissioned Columbia University researchers to evaluate eight areas to determine how changes in physical, mental, and social health affect driving mobility for older adults.

Areas researched in relation to helping older drivers prevent accidents were depression, anxiety, fatigue, sleep disturbance, pain interference, pain intensity, physical functioning, and participation in social activities.

Fatigue and poor physical functioning were most common among older drivers who spend less time behind the wheel, researchers found.

Older adults forced to surrender the keys are more likely to suffer from depression than those who keep driving.

Physical Fitness

Daily exercise and stretching can help older drivers by improving flexibility, letting them more freely observe the road from all angles and keeping them alert to road hazards.

Physical strength and agility help drivers remain alert to potential road hazards and capable of performing driving tasks, such as:

  • braking
  • steering
  • parking
  • looking to the side and rear
  • adjusting seat belts
  • sitting for long periods

Age makes some decline in physical fitness inevitable but exercise doesn’t have to be exhausting to be beneficial, and can help older drivers prevent accidents.

Specialists suggest that senior citizens spread out the time they spend being physically active over the course of a day and a week. A few minutes at a time is helpful towards the goal of being fit to drive and helping older drivers prevent accidents.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends older adults, who are physically able, get between 2.5 to 5 hours of moderate-intensity exercise each week or between 75 minutes to 2.5 hours of high-intensity physical activity.

Older adults should consult their doctor before beginning a new exercise regimen.

Also, in order to stay alert behind the wheel, older drivers should try to get at least seven hours of sleep a night.

Stretching

Making stretching exercises a routine before driving can improve senior citizens’ driving capabilities and work in helping older drivers prevent accidents.

AAA’s senior driving tips on stretching include:

  • Shoulder stretch. Bring both shoulders forward as far as possible. Then bring both shoulders backwards as far as possible.
    • Repetition: 10 times.
    • Useful for: Steering, preventing fatigue, backing up, and mirror checks.
  • Chin flexion-extension. Keep head facing forward. Bend head forward, touching chin on chest. Tilt head backward until forehead is parallel to the ceiling.
    • Repetition: Five times in each direction.
    • Useful for: Adjusting mirrors, preventing fatigue.
  • Feet. On long trips, especially, feet can become fatigued. Stiffness, foot or leg cramps, or a foot that falls asleep can all be factors in crashes. Before a trip, exercise your feet by stretching them and moving them from side to side to avoid fatigue.
  • Neck rotation. Turn neck as far to the right as possible. Turn neck as far to the left as possible.
    • Repetition: Five times in each direction.
    • Useful for: Looking over your shoulder to check for blind spots, parallel parking, adjusting mirrors, backing up, fatigue.

Contact Farrow & Pulice Attorneys At Law today for help with car crashes, truck accidents, motorcycle wrecks and pedestrian accidents.

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