Older Drivers

Frequently Asked Questions

12. What can I do to stay focused when I’m at the wheel?

To drive safely, people must be able to pay attention to many things at once and react to sudden changes. They need to make decisions — sometimes very quickly — and remember what to do to avoid accidents and stay safe. But as people get older, they process information and react more slowly, and their attention spans may be shorter. Here are some helpful tips to address changes in attention and help you stay focused and alert on the road.

  • Talk to your doctor. Your attention problems might be due to a condition or medication that can be addressed.
  • Make sure you get enough sleep. Without enough restful sleep, a person can become inattentive and more prone to making mistakes.
  • Leave enough space between you and the car in front of you. Find a marker ahead of you, such as a tree or sign. When the car ahead of you passes this mark, count “1001, 1002, 1003, 1004.” Leave enough space so that you get to 1004 before you reach the marker.
  • Start braking early when you need to stop.
  • Avoid high-traffic areas if possible. Drive during the day and avoid rush hour. Find other routes with less traffic.
  • When on the highway, drive in the right-hand lane, where traffic moves more slowly. 
  • Scan far down the road so you can anticipate problems and plan your actions.
  • Avoid left turns if they make you uncomfortable. Often, you can make three right turns instead of one left turn to get where you want to go. If you must turn left, pay attention to the speed of oncoming traffic.