Is anxiety affecting your driving – or that of your parents?
Do you worry about your parent’s driving? Not just because of failing eyesight or slower reactions, but because you know today’s traffic is frightening to manage for someone used to quieter times.
And have you become an anxious driver too? With a head taken over by worries about family and the future? Or just distracted by an elderly passenger who’s forgotten that they need to stay quiet when you need to concentrate?
According to the AA, only 30% of people of any age actually focus on just driving when they’re at the wheel. They’re too busy worrying about everything from work and money through relationships to meal planning – and not to mention just arriving on time.
As a result, In 2017 there were over 4,500 injury crashes where driver distraction was said to be a contributory factor.
So what we can do to cut down on distractions, reduce anxiety and focus better on the road?
The AA has put together a video to help you stay sharp.
Here are a few of the key pieces of advice that relate to us as caregivers to older family, and to our ageing relatives as well.
- Clear out clutter – anything that could roll around might be a distraction, and even get stuck under the pedals while you’re driving.
- If you need to use your sat nav, make sure it’s fully charged up (or plugged into your car’s charging port), and that you’ve already programmed the correct postcode and address.
- Pre-set the radio to your favourite stations, and if you want to listen to playlists, make sure they’re set up on your device before you leave.
Staying clear-headed while you’re on the road
- It’s not easy to put all of your worries and thoughts to one side, but you need to be as calm and focused as possible.
- If you have something on your mind, try to deal with it – as much as possible – before getting behind the wheel.
- Try not to drive if you’re feeling overwhelmed, stressed, or you think you won’t be able to give driving your full attention.
- If you need to make a call or send a text, wait until you’ve pulled over safely to use your phone.
- Even if you’re feeling stressed, resist the urge to smoke, vape or eat while you’re driving.
Staying focused while you have passengers in the car
The AA advice focuses on younger passengers, but some of these relate very well to older people, who can be very vocal and sometimes quite unpredictable.
- Make sure your passengers are securely strapped in. (That includes older people who can struggle to put on seat belts securely, but somehow manage to remove them at the wrong moment quite easily.)
- If you’re finding the drive difficult, ask your passengers to keep conversations to a minimum (especially if it’s issues that they want you to solve right now).
- Keep political discussions and any other heated topics strictly off-limits until the journey is over.
If you found this article interesting, you may like to read some of our other posts:
- Is it time to hang up the car keys?
- Choosing a car for the older driver
- How to keep driving with renewed confidence