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Sept/Oct 2012 Issue

Web site illuminates dangers of night driving for seniors

Driving at night presents challenges for all drivers, but senior drivers can face substantially increased risk because of decreased visual distance, difficulty focusing, and sensitivity to glare.

Difficulties like these are the most common reasons older adults limit or regulate their own driving. Many seniors also find they just don’t need to drive at night as often as they used to and primarily drive during the day. This can result in driving under less stressful conditions, as well.

But if seniors cannot avoid driving at night, they can visit to find several ways to manage the risks. The site not only features tips on night driving but information on how to handle other body and mind changes, tools to evaluate your driving skills, and other resources for friends and family.

When driving after sundown, compensate for reduced visibility by decreasing your speed and increasing following distance to four or more seconds behind the vehicle in front of you.

Also, keep your eyes moving. Do not focus on the middle of the area illuminated by your headlights. Watch for sudden flashes of light at hilltops, around curves, or at intersections, because these may indicate the presence of oncoming vehicles.

The Web site advises that in dim light, it can be helpful to focus on the edges or outlines of objects. Your eyes can pick up images more sharply this way than by looking directly at the objects.

To protect your eyes from prolonged glare, which can lead to eyestrain and drowsiness, wear good sunglasses during bright days and take them off as soon as the sun goes down. After steady daytime driving, rest awhile before you drive at night. At night, look to the center of your pathway and use the painted edge lines to guide your vehicle.

Avoid being blinded by oncoming high beams. If the driver of an oncoming vehicle fails to dim the lights, look down toward the right side of the road to avoid being blinded. Use the painted edge line to stay on course until the vehicle passes. The Web site even includes an interactive exercise to help seniors find out how to combat glare.

For more details about night driving or advice for seniors to stay safe behind the wheel, visit

glare road
Senior drivers can be sensitive to glare. ©jackstudio– photo


Motorists can curb back-to-school tragedies with vigilance

With more than 55 million students across the country grumbling about the end of summer, AAA is being just as vocal to remind motorists to slow down in school zones and watch out for children heading back to school.

Young students, especially those who don’t fully comprehend the dangers of traffic, are at risk as they walk to and from school each day. Studies show that nearly one-fifth of traffic fatalities of children below the age of 15 are pedestrians, with more school-age pedestrians killed between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. than any other time of day.

According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, a pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling at a reduced school zone speed of 25 mph is nearly two-thirds less likely to be killed compared to a pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling just 10 mph faster.

In addition to slowing down, there are other tips motorists can follow as they navigate through school zones to keep children safe.

  • Research shows that taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles your chances of crashing, so avoid distractions.
  • Stay alert and don’t rush into and out of driveways. Expect pedestrians around schools and in neighborhoods.
  • Stop at stop signs. More than one-third of drivers roll through stop signs in school zones or neighborhoods, studies show.
  • Watch for bikes and know that children on bicycles are often unpredictable.
  • The need to brake for buses was made clear in a survey by the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services, which showed more than 75,000 vehicles pass stopped school buses on a typical day.
  • Modify your route if possible to avoid school zones.

(c) Bus
More than 75,000 vehicles pass stopped school buses each day. ©Sonya photo

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