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Driving is a complex behavior requiring sequences of activities that occur in an intricate and variable environment. Impairments in visual, cognitive, and motor function that occur as we age may affect a person's ability to drive safely. When you are driving, you must distribute your attention among multiple activities and be able to react quickly and correctly to situations that arise without warning. Poor reflexes and increased reaction time compromise your ability to do this.

Most senior drivers are capable and have a lifetime of valuable driving experience, so decisions about a person's ability to drive should never be based on age alone. However, changes in vision, physical fitness and reflexes may cause safety concerns. People who accurately assess these changes can adjust their driving habits so that they stay safe on the road. Older drivers in Texas are involved in a significant number of crashes; in 2007, there were 4,555 drivers involved in fatal crashes, 819 and of those drivers were age 55 or older.

One aspect of safe driving that becomes a challenge as we age is selecting a safe gap in traffic. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in two-vehicle fatal crashes in 2007 involving an older driver and a younger driver, the vehicle driven by the older person was nearly twice as likely to be the one that was struck (59% and 33%, respectively). In 25 percent of these crashes, the older driver was turning left - five times more often than the younger driver. A safe gap in traffic allows you to turn, pass, change lanes or cross an intersection without jeopardizing other road users or causing a crash.

This and other safe driving topics relevant to older drivers are covered in the Texas defensive driving course, which have the added benefit of providing insurance discounts upon completion. Mature drivers who complete this course minimize crash risk while saving hundreds of dollars on their auto insurance. Drivers receive a certificate to submit to their insurance agency after completing this easy, fast, and worthwhile course.

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