Page 29 - Senior Times South Central Michigan - July 2018 - 25-07
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Safety Tips
For Older Drivers
By: Sherii Sherban, Publisher
Research has shown that even though older drivers travel fewer miles per year they are more prone to being seriously injured or killed in a traffic crash.
Based on the estimated annual miles traveled, the fatality rate for drivers age 65 and older is an astonishing 17 times higher than the rate for drivers 25 to 64 years old.
The good news is that the number and severity of crashes involving older driv- ers in Michigan is declining. Part of this downward trend might be attributed to the increased safety measures provided by newer vehicles.
Having a complete inspection and detailing can get your summer travels off to a great start.
Before taking your vehicle in take
it for a test-drive and pay attention to anything unusual. Do a quick run up the local freeway to listen for noises, feel for shakes, and watch for trouble signs in the gauges. Don’t assume everything is fine just because you drive your car every day. This is intended to be a test, not a commute, so focus on your car. Do you hear grinding or moaning from the wheels? Does the car pull? Check for alignment problems or worn tires. Does it shimmy or squeal? Do the headlights flicker at idle?
You should also do a visual check around the outside of the car. Do you see any fluids on the ground? What color
are they? You can also easily check to be sure all lights and signals are working. Examine windows for cracks and that they are working. Check the mirrors and locks as well. Take a peek in the trunk
to check the spare tire and that you have the working tools you need in case of an emergency. Check to be sure the first aid kit is fully stocked. Check for the proper paperwork in the glove box.
Professionals will gladly assist with inspecting the A/C system, brake system, suspension, tire pressure and tread, wip- ers and fluid, engine oil, engine coolant, transmission and differential fluids, hoses, belts, and more.
Your car battery should not be over- looked as you prepare for your summer travel. Contrary to popular belief, sum- mer highs rather than winter lows pose the greater threat to battery life, accord- ing to the non-profit Car Care Council.
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Sooner or later all batteries have to be replaced. Excessive heat and overcharg- ing are the two main reasons for short- ened battery life. Heat causes battery fluid to evaporate, thus damaging the internal structure of the battery. A mal- functioning component in the charging system, usually the voltage regulator, allows too high a charging rate, leading to slow death for a battery.
Driving habits such as frequent engine on/off cycles will cause more wear on the starter than a simple back and forth to work. Other factors include driving and weather conditions, mile- age, vehicle age and excessive electrical draws like in-vehicle entertainment systems. Check the battery if you notice headlights and interior lights dim, acces- sories that fail to operate, or the “check engine” and/or battery light illuminated.
While your vehicle is in the shop get- ting its check up, it’s the perfect oppor- tunity for you to head in for a check up as well. It is important for older drivers to realize that safety in a vehicle is
also related to their personal health and physical condition. Driving is a physical exercise, which requires a certain level of strength, flexibility, and coordination to do safely.
Incorporating regular physical activity has been shown to slow down the aging process as well as help the brain. When it comes to driving it also helps with the physical demands of driving, from being able to turn your head to look for traffic or other hazards as well as reaction time when hazards are identified. If you are having difficulty shifting gears on the coveted classic car, that you only drive in the summer, turning the steering wheel or braking, it may be time to trade in the stick for a new vehicle with power steer- ing and brakes for the safety of everyone on the road.
Flexibility fitness training can be an effective tool in improving range of motion and increasing levels of fitness among older drivers, resulting in bet- ter driving skills.
Concerns for the driving senior might also include the changes and challenges for other senses. Changing eyesight can make driving at night, or when raining, more challenging. Diminished hearing can make it difficult to hear warning signals. It’s a good idea to be safe and get your hearing and vision tested before heading out on the road. Working with health professionals the aging senior can find solutions for the challenges that they may face to keep them driving safely.
Taking steps now to have your vehi- cle inspected, as well as your personal health evaluations, can prepare you for a full summer of adventure. Happy travels.
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Senior Times - July 2018
Page 29
Attorney at Law
Estate Planning & Elder Law
I-94 Marshall
9011 W. Chicago (US 12) • Allen, Michigan 49227
Coldwater Exit 13
Old US 12 Indiana

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