Driving in Hong Kong can become extremely challenging the older you get, and this is very true for older adults, especially the elderly. As you grow older, you will notice physical and cognitive changes that can make certain actions, such as turning your head to check for oncoming cars or reading road signs clearly more difficult. Therefore, it is important for the elderly to reflect on their driving ability to make sure that they remain safe on the road at all times.
For this article, Kwiksure has listed a few tips specifically for elderly drivers that are keen on driving safety in Hong Kong.
1. Consider the following checklist before getting behind the wheel
- Do you have any pain or stiffness in the arms, legs, neck, or back? If so, this may affect your ability to engage the likes of your gearbox, control the clutch, or look across into the mirrors. The advice is to avoid driving and rest until the stiffness has gone and the body, from head to toes, can move freely.
- Have you been diagnosed with any chronic conditions (e.g. epilepsy, dementia, etc.)? If so, a chronic condition will most likely affect your safety on the road, and the advice here would be to consult with a doctor before attempting to drive.
- Do you tire easily when driving, even at short distances? Aging drivers may experience fatigue more often than younger drivers, which affects how long you’re able to drive. When making plans to drive from one place to another, consider places to stop and rest, like at the petrol station.
- Do you feel stressed and anxious? Feeling stressed can affect other health conditions that may be present in aging drivers, such as heart disease, which can cause a stroke. Again, it’s best to consult with your doctor about the best options for your health as you age.
Consider consulting an insurance broker for private health insurance to cover any costs and inconveniences that may arise from getting treatment for a condition you may have.
2. Stay physically active
Elderly individuals are recommended to stay physically active to improve strength and flexibility. For those with access to a gym, personal trainers are qualified to help improve mobility and indicate areas along the body to stretch. For those without a gym membership, there are a plethora of exercises that can be done at home.
Yoga and pilates for stretches and strength exercises
A good start would be pilates or yoga. Online sources, such as YouTube, can help provide step-by-step routines to follow. Both yoga and pilates can help improve coordination and alertness. Not only is it physically effective but also mentally stimulating as mental concentration is needed to maintain full control of the whole body.
3. Visit the local optician or hearing specialist for a test
Hearing and vision are senses that tend to decline with age. Impaired hearing (limited hearing or hearing loss) is a huge concern for older drivers as they are unlikely to hear oncoming emergency vehicles or vehicles warning of their presence with the horn.
Age-related vision problems tend to arise the older we get, such as cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration. These conditions can make it difficult to see clearly and drive behind the wheel during the day and at night.
It is imperative to get regular check-ups so any problems with vision and hearing can be diagnosed and treated. Ask the doctor or specialist how often to schedule vision and hearing tests.
Wearing prescription eyeglasses and using a suitable hearing aid, for vision and hearing respectively, can help boost confidence and safety whilst driving.
4. Avoid using mobile phones or any other devices that may cause a distraction
Driving while distracted is a frequent cause of accidents. Therefore, it is best to follow the steps below before driving to reduce distractions as much as possible:
- Plan the journey ahead.
- Set the GPS device before heading off and not during the journey.
- If traveling with a fellow passenger, ask them to help check directions if unsure.
- If lost, park at the nearest suitable spot and refer to a map.
- Prohibit the use of mobile phones by not looking, texting, posting, or taking a photo or selfie of any kind.
- Bluetooth devices, although designed to provide a hands-free experience for communicating between the user and mobile device, is still considered a distraction. The driver’s thoughts and attention are diverted to the device, rather than focused fully on the road and surroundings.
For elderly drivers, if there is an incoming call that requires answering, consider finding a safe place to park before answering the call.
5. Consider taking a refresher course
Older drivers may not be aware of the latest changes in rules and regulations when driving in Hong Kong. For this reason, it is recommended to consider taking a refresher course for older drivers. Getting an update might even help to earn a discount on future car insurance, depending on the policy. For the most benefits, check for a community education program or local organizations that serve older adults.
Get in touch with Kwiksure today
The aforementioned tips will help older drivers to remain safer on the road. However, for all drivers in Hong Kong, it is mandatory to at least have third-party liability car insurance. Just like how there are numerous other safety tips for older drivers to consider, there are also a plethora of car insurance plans to choose from. The hard part is choosing the right one that meets your needs and requirements as an elderly driver.
As the leading motor insurance broker in Hong Kong, Kwiksure’s team of experts have years of experience matching elderly drivers with the best third party and comprehensive car insurance policies on the market. If you have any more questions or would like to get a free auto insurance quote and discuss a no claims discount, click here to speak to Kwiksure’s advisors.