Alberta auto insurance providers are committed to helping keep the province’s roads safe and accessible to everyone. As we age, it’s important that we all remain proactive about assessing our skills. Reflexes begin to decline as early as age 25, and hearing can begin to go even earlier…depending on how much stress has been placed on your eardrums through loud music and machinery (and genetics plays a part as well). And eyesight – perhaps the most valuable sense we have when it comes to driving – fluctuates throughout our lifetimes, and should be assessed regularly, even if you think you have no troubles.
How Advancing Age Affects Driving
While slowing reflexes and declining hearing and eyesight are the most obvious ways in which age affects your ability to drive, there are some others you should also consider:
- If you have recurrent stiffness in your back and/or neck, you might find it difficult to turn your head through its full range of motion to check traffic in advance of turns and lane changes
- Similarly, stiff muscles and joints in your legs can make it trickier to switch between the gas pedal and the brake, further slowing down your reaction time
- Many people experience mild declines in cognitive processing abilities as they age, making it more challenging to read and keep track of signage, signals and traffic patterns
Driving is a challenge at any age, however, there are several things you can do to keep yourself in the best possible shape to drive:
- Get regular physical checkups, including sight, hearing and reflex tests
- Regular exercise will help keep your muscles and joints looser and more responsive
- Be sure to get adequate sleep; while sleep requirements tend to decline with age, you should still be aiming for at least seven hours every night
- Engage in activities that challenge your brain; studies show this helps slow down cognitive decline in older people
Eyesight Standards for Motorists
In Alberta, you only have to undergo a mandatory eyesight test when you first get your license. However, it is your responsibility to make sure that your vision meets the province’s minimum requirements, as dictated by law. While these requirements vary depending on the class of license you hold, most drivers need at least 20/50 vision when both eyes are open (corrective glasses or contacts can assist in reaching these parameters). If vision in one eye is stronger than vision in your other eye, your weaker eye must have at least 20/200 capabilities.
Driving at night poses added challenges for people with vision deficiencies. Generally, safety experts recommend that older drivers avoid the roads at night whenever possible. If you must drive at night, be sure that your headlights are well-maintained and free of obstructions. It’s also a good idea to reduce your speed to give yourself enough time to react to any unexpected obstacles that might come along.
Mandatory Testing for Drivers Over Age 75
While it is controversial in some circles, the Alberta government does mandate testing requirements for drivers over the age of 75. Your physician may also recommend that you undergo testing if you are under the age of 75, but show signs of physical decline that could affect your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle.
The most common such driving exam in the province is DriveABLE. DriveABLE Assessment Centres was founded in 1998, and has developed a trusted tool for evaluating a driver’s abilities. The DriveABLE test is computer-based. During the assessment, you will be asked to complete a session that checks:
- Your reaction time
- Your ability to stay focused on the road
- Your ability to safely divide your attention between stimuli
- Your judgment in complex driving situations
- Your decision-making skills
The test is highly recommended for all older drivers who want to be sure they’re not posing undue risk to themselves or others by staying on the road.
Alberta Auto Insurance: Complete Resources from Lane’s Insurance
Lane’s Insurance is a leading Alberta-based brokerage, helping drivers, homeowners, business owners and people with unique coverage needs. The company compares policies and quotes for you, helping secure you the best possible rates by getting insurers to bid for your business. Because Lane’s is a brokerage, they work for you, not the insurance company, so your best interests will always be protected in the event that you have to file a claim.
Maintaining a comprehensive library of digital resources, Lane’s Insurance is committed to helping Albertans of all ages. If we can help, please don’t hesitate to contact us.