Older Driver Safety in California

Older driver safety is an important topic in California. With the impending increase in baby-boomer-older drivers on the roadways, it’s important to make sure drivers are healthy enough to drive safely. A decline in physical and cognitive skills can impact the ability of an older driver to safely navigate the roadways, even if they’re staying close to home, on familiar routes. Additionally, age-related vision deterioration also needs to be a serious consideration when discussing driving skills and road safety.

Age-Related Decline in Driving Skills

Although age alone isn’t the lone predicting factor for safe driving abilities, it is important to understand that perishable driving skills can be greatly reduced in association with age-related declines in both physical and mental abilities. It’s no secret that our vision begins to deteriorate with age too, and what’s more important than being able to see where you’re going when you’re behind the wheel? Although it’s hard to admit, even a slight loss of vision can mean the difference in driving safely and making a dangerous choice to get behind the wheel. A decline in vision, at any age, can turn a quick trip to the grocery store into a deadly journey.

Traffic Safety Facts: Older Drivers

• In 2012, 17 percent of all traffic fatalities in the U.S. were among people ages 65 and older.
• People age 65 and over made up only 14 percent of the total U.S. resident population in 2012.
• 5,560 people age 65 and older were killed in traffic crashes in 2012.
• In 2012, an estimated 214,000 people age 65 and older were injured in crashes.

Independence and the Older Driver

Obviously, one of the most important factors in any older driver’s desire to stay behind the wheel is independence. Losing our independence as we age is difficult, to say the least. For many people, they’ve been totally independent for 50, 60, 70 years or longer. They’re not ready to give up the keys, and subsequently, their independence.

When to Speak with an At-Risk Older Driver

If you’re concerned about an elderly loved one’s ability to drive safely, it’s time to have the talk. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) offers loved ones a variety of resources to loved ones who want to make sure the elderly drivers in their lives are safe. Don’t wait for something bad to happen before talking to somebody you care about.

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