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Features for Senior Citizens

AAA Urges Families to Prepare for the 'Silver Tsunami' of Aging Drivers

Older Driver Safety Awareness Week is Dec. 5-9 and AAA emphasizes the importance of communication to help keep senior drivers safe and mobile - AARP Webinar Today

Dec. 5, 2011 – Senior citizens – people age 65 or older – are now the largest and fastest growing age group in the U.S. This growth has been accelerated by the baby boomers beginning to flood into the ranks of the elderly and the American Automobile Association sees a “silver tsunami” washing down the streets and highways during Older Driver Safety Awareness Week, which begins today.

AARP Has Webinar Today for Older Drivers

To kick off the week, AARP Driver Safety will host a free online webinar called “Family Conversations with Older Drivers: We Need to Talk” from 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. EST Monday, Dec. 5.

Geared toward adults with aging parents, this webinar will help address the difficult, but important question: how do you know if it’s time for your loved one to limit or stop driving?

Julie Lee, vice president of AARP Driver Safety will host the webinar with Beth Tracton-Bishop, PhD, Gerontologist with The Hartford Advance 50 Team. To listen in on the discussion, visit AARP's online registration form.

AAA is one of the organizations joining in the promotion of the event, which was created by the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). Older Driver Safety Awareness Week December 5-9, aims to raise awareness about the importance of safe mobility and transportation for older adults and promote action to keep older adults mobile and active in their communities.

Throughout the week, AOTA will offer resources on different aspects of older driver safety:
   ● Monday, Dec. 5: Family Conversations
   ● Tuesday, Dec. 6: Screening and Evaluations
   ● Wednesday, Dec. 7: Driving Equipment and Adaptations
   ● Thursday, Dec. 8: Taking Changes in Stride
   ● Friday, Dec. 9: Life After Driving

Driving conversations between family members should be ongoing and are often initiated around holiday gatherings. Strategies are offered through AOTA’s Web site () to help families start these conversations along with options for ways to keep seniors safely on the road. Older Driver Safety Awareness Week national endorsers also have dedicated Web sites providing public and health professionals with useful, timely information:
   ● AAA (http://www.seniordriving.aaa.com/),
   ● AARP (www.aarp.org/drive) and
   ● The Hartford (www.SafeDrivingforaLifetime.com).

Research has shown that people today live an average of about 7-10 years beyond their safe driving ability, according to AAA. And the senior population will increase by 75 percent over the next two decades.

"In less than 10 years, one in four licensed drivers will be age 65 and older, which means that millions of American families will be working through this challenge," said Jake Nelson, director, AAA Traffic Safety Advocacy and Research.

"Most families don't know where to turn for help so by partnering with the American Occupational Therapists Association (AOTA) during Older Driver Safety Awareness Week, AAA hopes to raise visibility of resources and tools that will help families address real and perceived challenges associated with driving and aging."

AAA's senior driver safety and mobility website SeniorDriving.AAA.com provides expert advice and research-based tools for senior drivers and their families. Tools on the site are designed to aid in prompting conversations, assessing abilities and improving the comfort and safety of older drivers.

Conversations about safe driving can evoke strong emotional reactions as concerns about personal independence and managing other day-to-day activities may come into question. AAA encourages seniors and their families to approach these sensitive conversations as opportunities for constructive communication and problem solving.

To help manage the effects of aging on driving ability, AAA also offers the following resources for older drivers:

   ● AAA Roadwise Review is a computer-based self-screening tool designed to assess a driver's functional abilities important to safe driving.

   ● CarFit and AAA's Smart Features for Mature Drivers help to enhance seniors' comfort and safety while driving.

   ● Safe Driving for Mature Operators classroom and online courses provide driver training to help address the changes caused by aging and how a driver may compensate.

As North America's largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA says it provides more than 52 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

More AAA Resources:

   ● SeniorDriving.AAA.com - This website provides expert advice about how aging affects ones ability to drive safely. Users also will find a step-by-step guide on how to begin a conversation with an older driver about the need to work together on an action plan for the transition from driver to pas­senger. Additionally, users will find a variety of tools and resources, from educational brochures and driver improvement courses, to skills assessment tools and free community-based programs.

   ● How to Help an Older Driver - This booklet from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety provides a helpful framework as you search together to learn how to preserve your loved one's personal freedom and mobility, while ensuring their safety and the safety of other road users.

New Data on Older Drivers by CDC

Driving helps older adults stay mobile and independent, but the risk of being injured or killed in a motor vehicle crash increases as people age.

Driving helps older adults stay mobile and independent. But the risk of being injured or killed in a motor vehicle crash increases as people age. In 2008, more than 5,500 older adults were killed in motor vehicle crashes and more than 183,000 were injured. This amounts to 15 older adults killed and 500 injured in crashes on average every day.

A recent survey of adults ages 65 or older explored reasons why older adults limit, or self-restrict, their driving during certain conditions (e.g., at night or in bad weather) and reasons why some older adults stop driving altogether. Of the 479 people surveyed, 406 respondents were current drivers, and 73 reported that they no longer drive. Of the current drivers, about 57% of men and 81% of women reported that they avoided driving under certain conditions. Respondents most commonly limited their driving at night and in bad weather. One-third of older men and two-thirds of older women stated that they avoided driving under each of these conditions.

 

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Other findings included:

   ● Only 9% of older men, but 34% of older women, reported avoiding driving on highways or high-speed roads.

   ● A third of older men and 44% of older women reported avoiding driving in heavy traffic.

   ● About 10% of older men and 15% of older women reported cutting back on driving due to a physical problem in the last year.

   ● Of those that cut back on driving due to physical problem, 40% cited vision-related issues as a reason.

Info for older drivers on CDC web site

In 2009, there were 33 million licensed drivers ages 65 and older in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) web page for older drivers.

The risk of being injured or killed in a motor vehicle crash increases as you age, the CDC reports. An average of 500 older adults are injured every day in crashes.

How big is the problem?

   ● In 2008, more than 5,500 older adults were killed and more than 183,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes. This amounts to 15 older adults killed and 500 injured in crashes on average every day.

   ● There were 33 million licensed older drivers in 2009, which is a 23 percent increase from 1999.

Who is most at risk?

   ● Per mile traveled, fatal crash rates increase starting at age 75 and increase notably after age 80. This is largely due to increased susceptibility to injury and medical complications among older drivers rather than an increased tendency to get into crashes.

   ● Age-related declines in vision and cognitive functioning (ability to reason and remember), as well as physical changes, may affect some older adults' driving abilities.

   ● Across all age groups, males had substantially higher death rates than females.

>> More CDC, New Data on Old Drivers

More Resources

>> University of Michigan, Transportation Research Institute

     Driving Decisions Workbook

>> AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety

     Senior Driver Web Site

>> AAA National: AAA Roadwise Review

     A Tool to Help Seniors Drive Safely Longer

>> National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

     Active Aging Programs

>> Community Transportation Association of America

     Senior Transportation


More Links to Archived Reports on Senior Citizens and Driving

Families Should Check Driving Ability of Senior Citizens During Family Holidays

Consumer Reports Health offers tips for determining when to take the keys away from an older driver - Dec. 7, 2010


Seniors Account for Just 3 Percent of $99 Billion Annual Cost of Motor Vehicle Crashes

CDC Study Finds Cost amounts to nearly $500 for each U.S. licensed driver in one year - Aug. 28, 2010


Elderly Drivers Do Not Lose the Ability to Detect Hazards, More Aware Than Youngest

However, older drivers claim other road users were responsible for putting them at risk and rarely considered themselves as responsible for hazardous events

May 26, 2010


AMA Issues Older Driver Safety Guide to Help Slow Leading Cause of Injury Deaths in Seniors

Per mile driven, fatality rate for drivers 85+ is nine times higher than for drivers 25 to 69

March 17, 2010


Senior Citizen Drivers Setting New Records – For Safe Driving, Fewer Fatal Crashes

Despite growing numbers, fewer older drivers died in crashes and fewer were involved in fatal collisions

Jan. 13, 2009


Florida Vision Test of Elderly Drivers Appears to Reduce Deaths, But No One Knows How

Importance of driving to older adults suggests that isolating the true mechanism responsible for the decline is in fact important

Nov. 10, 2008


Smart Features for Mature Drivers Introduced by AAA at NY Auto Show

Research finds features to improve safety, comfort of senior citizens – booming driver market: AAA starts senior driver Web page

March 25, 2008


Senior Citizens Not As Dangerous Behind the Wheel as Youngest Drivers

Not much more likely to cause auto accidents than baby boomers

July 19, 2007


Aging Committee Leaders Release Older Driver Report Calling for States to Share Information

Older drivers more likely than other age groups to suffer injuries or die in car crashes

April 19, 2007


Study Explores Why Older Drivers Have So Many Wrecks at Intersections?

Protected left turn arrows and roundabouts may help the oldest drivers

March 19, 2007


Elderly Drivers Increasingly More Likely to Die in Auto Accidents

Study looks at age, gender as major factors in severity of accident injuries

January 5, 2007


Senior Citizens Driving with Dementia Are Targets of Training for Physicians

Academy of Neurology says seniors with mild dementia should stop driving

December 28, 2006


Senior Citizens Who Give Up Driving may take Express Lane to Nursing Home

'Taking the keys has serious consequences for older drivers'

July 19, 2006


Senior Citizens By Far the Least Likely to Talk on Cell Phone While Driving

Older people are most likely to think it dangerous and least likely to do it

June 9, 2006


Senior Citizen Drivers: Are They Menace? Should Licensing Laws Be Tougher?

Safety advocates want tougher licensing for seniors and special vehicles

June 16, 2005


Study Implying Young With Cell Phones Drive as Dangerously As Elderly Ignores Facts

By Tucker Sutherland, editor - Feb. 4, 2005


New Guide Available Online to Those Concerned About an Aging Driver

July 6, 2004


Safety for Older Drivers is Goal of New Website

June 26, 2004

 

 

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