Older motorists face a number of challenges on and off the road. Because of physical issues such as diminished vision and muscular capacity, this demographic often struggles with the high-pressure demands of driving, which include being alert and reacting quickly. This means that older drivers are more prone to getting in accidents, endangering themselves, and paying fortunes for repairs and increased auto insurance rates. A recent article from Mercury News revealed that AAA predicts that by 2030 there will be 65 million drivers over the age of 65. What is being done to help senior citizens hold on to their licenses without being a threat to other drivers?
Emphasizing the fundamentals of driving
Mercury News reminded drivers of the safety concerns that surround older motorists, mentioning that behind teenagers, drivers age 75 and up are responsible for the most accidents in the country.
Realizing that many seniors may not accurately assess their own driving skills, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration emphasized the importance of keeping older drivers safe behind the wheel through the years. The organization recently developed a report suggesting ways that auto manufacturers and regulators can improve vehicle technology and data collection to enhance driver safety for the elderly.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is one of the few national groups that is actively trying to improve driving experiences for those in their later years.
"Many older people are capable [of driving] and have a lifetime of valuable driving experience behind them to draw upon," PennDOT spokesman Craig Yetter told the news source. "If we can add a restriction for glasses or some piece of adaptive equipment that will help them with the driving task, we look for a way to do that."
Re-educating drivers on rules of the road
Besides making alterations to vehicles and road regulations, some organizations provide education and training resources for drivers who feel they need a refresher course. According to the Santa Cruz Sentinel, the California Highway Patrol recently hosted an "Age Well, Drive Smart" event at a local community center. Twenty people, many between the ages of 60 and 70, voiced their thoughts on the challenges of driving as they get older. The California DOT requires that drivers take a hearing and vision test when they reach 70, as well as a brief test to evaluate driving competency. Organizations such as AAA and AARP also offer courses that give behind-the-wheel training to senior citizens looking to reclaim their place on the road.
The Santa Cruz Sentinel concluded by providing older drivers with suggestions to make their personal transportation habits as safe as possible. Too many drivers sit low behind the wheel as they age. Older drivers should be sure to adjust their seats, mirrors, and headrests to ensure a comfortable position with a commanding view of the road. They also must also be honest with themselves when it comes to how they feel about driving. If an older driver is feeling fatigued or overwhelmed, they should take a break before continuing their trip.