Elder Driver Safety in California
Having a senior driver in your family doesn’t necessarily mean you have to take the keys away. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has a Drive Well Toolkit for elder drivers and their families. It’s not just about taking the keys away. It’s about promoting older driver safety, independence and mobility.
Older Driver Facts and Statistics
• In 2011, there were 35 million licensed older drivers.
• In 2012, 17 percent of all traffic fatalities across the U.S. were among people ages 65 and older.
• In 2012, seniors made up 9 percent of all the people injured in crashes.
• From 2003 to 2012, crash fatalities involving older drivers declined by 13 percent.
• For older pedestrians, 68 percent of fatalities in 2012 occurred at non-intersection locations.
Having “The Talk”
If you’re concerned about your older driver’s safety or the safety of others, it’s time to have the conversation. Prepare yourself to be met with at least some amount of friction or defensiveness. Driving is essentially independence and freedom for drivers of any age, so talking about limiting one’s driving or even quitting all together can be emotional. If you feel unsure about whether or not it’s time to talk to your loved one about safe driving and aging, the NHTSA has a variety of questions that may help. If you answer yes to any of the questions below, it’s time to talk to the older driver in your life.
Is it Time to Have The Talk?
• Does he get lost on familiar routes?
• Are there new dents or scratches in the vehicle?
• Has she experienced any near-miss crashes or crashes recently?
• Do signs, signals or road markings overwhelm him?
• Has the doctor advised limiting or stopping driving due to health issues?
• Does she take any medications that might impact her ability to drive?
It’s important to remember that seniors have been on this Earth, taking care of themselves and others for years. It’s not easy to give up driving or to even set limits on driving, which can essentially mean a loss of independence and freedom for an otherwise independent senior citizen. Providing alternatives and the means and ability to get from one place to another will help the transition go smoothly.