OLDER DRIVER SAFETY

Facts

 

Driving and community mobility is vital to the health of older adults . Older drivers, healthcare providers and family members must consider this area of one’s daily life when assessing overall well-being.  There are resources that provide guidance to assessing older driver’s fitness to drive as well as transportation planning and optimal alternative transportation plans.      

 

 

The Facts:

 

  • We know that the population is aging.  Older adults are outliving their driving ability by 7-10 years. 

  • Age alone is not a red flag for crash risk. 

  • Older adults are more at risk for injury when involved in a motor vehicle crash.  There is a higher fatality rate among drivers age 75+ per mile driven except for drivers younger than 29 .  

  • The crash risk among older drivers is in part due to impaired visual, physical or mental capacity.

  • Older drivers with a history of falls are at a 40% higher risk for motor vehicle crash.  

  • No single test can determine fitness to drive.  Multiple screening tools, assessments and clinical reasoning are used to make this determination.

 

 

 So What Can We Do?: 

  • Start the conversation early:  Just as adults plan for retirement from working, it is also imperative to PLAN for DRIVING RETIREMENT.  Starting the conversation early allows the client to have more control over this topic and having a plan in place will allow for a smoother transition from driver to non-driver. 

 

  • ​​Resources: 

                    §  My Mobility Plan

                    §  Safety Tips and Resources for Drivers

                    §  Driving Safely as You Age

                    §  Keeping Older Drivers Safe

                    §  Plan for the Road Ahead

 

  • Refer client for a Comprehensive Driving Evaluation.  During a comprehensive driving evaluation, an occupational therapist performs a thorough evaluation of vision, perception, sensation, strength, range of motion, coordination, and cognition in order to measure a client’s crash risk and fitness to drive.  The client may be deemed unfit to drive after the clinical portion of the evaluation and will not complete the on-road evaluation.  At this point client and family will be educated in alternative transportation options and transitioning from driver to non-driver.  Otherwise, the client will complete an on-road evaluation with a licensed driving instructor to complete the comprehensive driving evaluation.

 

 

 

 

References:  

  1. (2020, December 2) AAA Senior Driving: Facts and Research. Retrieved from https://seniordriving.aaa.com/resources-family-friends/conversations-about-driving/facts-research/ 

 

  2. Pomidor, A ed.  Clinician’s Guide to Assessing and Counseling Older Drivers, 4th Edition.  New York:  The American Geriatrics Society; 2019.   

 

  3. Gross, A.  (2020, December 2).  History of Falling Increases Crash Risk by 40 Percent for Older Drivers.  Retrieved from AAA Newsroom.

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