Older Drivers Safety Awareness Week

Keeping older adults active in their communities and maintaining safe transportation are the goals of Older Driver Safety Awareness Week, which is Dec. 5-9. Normal activity such as shopping, working, volunteering and socializing should not become safety limitations or strand seniors at home, according to the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA).

“Many seniors will experience a full lifetime of normal driving, and age alone should not be considered when evaluating driving longevity,” said Chris Bortz, Kansas Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Safety Assistant Bureau Chief. “But if families have noticed changes in their older loved ones, get togethers over the holidays can be a good time to discuss senior driver health.”

According to the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2020, 55.7 million people, or 17% of the population, were over the age of 65. This same year, 17% of national traffic fatalities were those age 65 and older.  Seniors are considered vulnerable road users more susceptible to serious injury and death in a crash.

The normal aging process can bring changes in physical, emotional and cognitive health. NHTSA advises senior drivers to adjust driving habits or seek alternative methods of transportation if –

  • A friend or family member has expressed concern about their driving or references new small dents or dings on your vehicle.
  • They sometimes get lost while driving on routes that were once familiar.
  • They have been pulled over by a police officer and warned about their poor driving performance, even if they didn’t get a ticket.
  • They have had several moving violations, near misses or actual crashes in the last three years.
  • Their healthcare provider has advised them to restrict driving or transition to other transportation.

If seniors are having any issues driving, they should –

  • Be aware of physical limitations and how they may impact driving.
  • Listen to what people tell them who care about them most.
  • Discuss driving with your healthcare provider – he or she can evaluate the interactions and any side effects of medications.
  • Refresh their knowledge of current safe driving practices.
  • Begin planning for alternative ways of meeting transportation needs and learn about transportation options in the community.

For more information and resources on senior driving and transportation, visit Driving Safely While Aging Gracefully | NHTSA  Older Driver Safety Awareness Week (#ODSAW) | AOTA .

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