For many of us, a driver’s license was a first taste of independence. As the years passed by, we started to take for granted the ability to hop in a vehicle and take off down the Florida highways and byways. And now, our reflexes a bit slower and our eyesight a bit worse, we again recognize the freedom a driver’s license gives to us – and perhaps wonder how long we’ll have it.

Mature drivers have a wealth of knowledge and experience to help navigate driving situations. The strategies that keep younger drivers safe apply to mature drivers as well: always wearing a seatbelt, following Florida driving laws, and driving defensively to protect ourselves. But there are many other tactics that can aid the mature driver and keep them safely behind the wheel for years to come.

Let’s take a look at some of these tips.

Take Care of your Health

As we age, it becomes more important than ever to take care of our health. Regular checkups and eye exams can alert us to changes in our vision, hearing, reflexes, and other functions that help keep us safe in the driver’s seat.

While many of the impacts of aging and conditions that affect mature drivers can be mitigated with medication, it’s vital to understand side effects of every medication we consume. Some medications cause drowsiness, confusion, or even a frequent need to use the restroom, and all of these factors could impact our driving capabilities.

Use Extra Caution

Another technique to improve the safety of mature drivers is to use a little extra caution before and during trips. Plan trips carefully so that they occur during non-peak traffic times, such as morning and afternoon rush hour. Mature drivers may have challenges seeing well in the dark or may be more reactive to bright headlights, so driving during daylight hours, especially with a good pair of sunglasses, is recommended.

Additionally, try to plan trips around the weather report. Avoid traveling when high winds and rain are present. Although snow is unusual in Florida, be aware of the potential for slick spots during cool weather or when you are traveling out of state.

Use extra caution behind the wheel, also. Add a little more space than usual between you and the vehicle in front of you so that you have adequate room to stop if the vehicle in front of you stops suddenly. You should also know your intended route before you leave, and plan for stops to stay well fed, hydrated, and rested

Stay Focused

Avoiding distractions is key for drivers of any age, but what may not have been a distraction in your younger years may now take away your focus. This includes activities such as conversations with passengers or listening to music or audiobooks while you drive. If you notice that these activities are impacting your concentration, stop them immediately so you can focus on driving.

Likewise, all good drivers know that driving drowsy or impaired by drugs or alcohol is dangerous. But mature drivers need to realize that their level of tolerance may diminish with time. Whereas a younger driver may be capable of driving within an hour of their bedtime, an older driver may find this more challenging. Be aware of your body’s sensitivities to sleepiness, alcohol, or other potential impairments.

Be Proactive

Finally, as a Florida licensed mature driver, you should understand the need to be proactive about protecting your ability to drive. Review your license and the laws of your county to understand when you will need to get your license renewed so that you can prepare adequately. And consider taking a driver improvement course, such as the Florida Mature Driver Defensive Driving Courses offered by DriveSafe Online, to brush up your defensive driving skills and possibly earn a discount on your auto insurance.

“It’s everyone’s obligation to share the road safely and avoid driving behaviors that place fellow drivers in danger,” explained Colonel Gene S. Spaulding, Director of the Florida Highway Patrol in a Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles news release. Mature drivers are not exempt.