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Drive Safely Well Into Your Golden Years
Life is a series of passages, as author Gail Sheehy has written. That concept can certainly be used to describe the way we get around in life. We began this passage through life when we first learned to roll over and then to crawl. From the crawl, we passed into the walking stage of life. Then came the run, the hop, skip, and the jump.
Before long we passed into the stage of life where we learned to drive and relied on automobiles to get us from one place to another. Most of us drive for a very long period in life but eventually most of us pass through this stage, too. There comes a time when the gentle passage of life brings us to a stage when it is safer and wiser to hand over the keys and let someone else do the driving.
Many older drivers are reluctant to confront the need to stop driving for several reasons, perhaps the most compelling of which is that it is a clear and undeniable indication we are getting old. Nobody wants to get old. It’s possible, though, to enjoy safe driving well into the mature years when the issue is embraced and accepted rather than one we fight tooth and nail.
The American population is an aging population, meaning there are more drivers than ever on the road and behind the wheel from age 65 and beyond. Almost all of these senior drivers show no age-related signs of impairment at all so there’s no real need to slow down. There is a need, however, to understand how the aging body alters how we respond to the conditions of the road even though they’re the same roads we’ve enjoyed for decades. We need to alter our driving habits as our aging bodies alter us.
The decision to keep on driving is often one that involves the input of many; almost no one hands over the keys voluntarily. Families are certainly a part of the decision but so are medical professionals, state lawmakers, and even the scientists and analysts we’ll never meet who make a living studying the effects of age and driving abilities.
As the driving population ages, there are more resources than ever before available to ensure safe drivers have all the tools, training classes, and elder driver awareness programs needed to continue driving safely for as long as possible. Public service announcements, alternative means of transportation, and research on how we can make our cars and our roadways more compatible with the needs of the older driver are all part of the grand scheme to extend the drive time of the people we love the most.
The desire to enhance the driving quality of our parents and grandparents isn’t just limited to the United States, either. It’s a global concern as the lifespan of the human race continues to increase everywhere.
One of the reasons for the increasing human lifespan, though, can spell trouble on the road. We extend our good health by taking prescription medications that can impair the ability to respond quickly or think clearly when accomplishing a task as complex as driving. Non-prescription medications and alcohol have an affect on driving ability, too, as we age because, as we get older, our tolerance for these substances diminishes.
For safest driving well into the golden years, we’ve got to be old dogs willing to learn new tricks. Some of those tricks are revealed in the links here. This information is presented in alphabetical order by title and includes information the entire family can share and discuss with peace and calm long before reaching the passage that brings an end of driving for the oldest loved ones in the family.
- AARP Driver Safety Course Locator
- Accident Analysis of Older Drivers at Intersections / US Department of transportation Federal Highway Administration
- Aging Americans: Stranded Without Options (Benefits of Public Transportation) (pdf) / American Public Transportation Association
- AOTA Older Driver Safety Awareness / The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA)
- Assessing Methods of Enhancing Older Driver Performance / Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) AgeLab
- The Characteristics of Elderly Drivers’ Driving Behavior on Intersection Using Graphic Driving Simulator
- Drive Sober: Know the Facts
- Driving Under the Influence of Drugs - The Other DUI (pdf) / National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
- For Seniors, Losing Driver’s License Like Having ‘Arm Cut Off’ / CBC News, Canada
- GrandDriver Campaign
- Injury Prevention & Control: Motor Vehicle Safety for Older Adult Drivers / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- Is It Time for an Older Driver Vehichle? / University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute
- National Institute on Aging
- National Older Driver Research and Training Center
- New Bill Would Require Older Drivers To Renew Licenses More Often / National Public Radio
- Older Drivers: How Aging Affects Driving / National Institutes of Health, Senior Health
- Older Drivers: Licensing Renewal Provisions (chart describing special provisions for older drivers in 50 states plus DC) / Insurance Institute of for Highway Safety
- Physician’s Guide to Assessing and Counseling Older Drivers / American Medical Association, National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, US Department of Transportation
- Resources for the Older Driver / New York State Department of Motor Vehicles
- Senior Drivers: How to Stay Safe / 50-plus Club
- Senior Driving / AAA
- Some Medications and Driving Don’t Mix / US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
- State of the Road: Older Road Users / Centre for Accident Research & Road Safety (CARRS), Queensland, Australia
- Teenagers and Older People Are the Riskiest Drivers / Consumer Reports
- Tips for Safe Driving / Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration
- Transportation Solutions for Caregivers / National Center on Senior Transportation (Easter Seals)
- University of Florida Develops Online Screening Tool to Help Caregivers Identify At-Risk Older Drivers
- Why Are Older Drivers at Risk? / American Medical Association