Keep older family members safe on the road in December

When: Dec. 3–7, 2012

What: As a teen, getting your driver’s license is a rite of passage, a step into adulthood. As an adult, having a driver’s license is something that you might not often think about. Driving gets you from place to place and is no longer a privilege but a necessity. But as you get older, your ability to drive safely may become impaired by a variety of factors. Be aware that aging can impact driver safety during Older Driver Safety Awareness Week this December.

Background: Sponsored by the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), Older Driver Safety Awareness Week seeks to promote the importance of mobility and independence for older adults. As a person ages, physical changes in eyesight, as well as a decline in cognitive powers such as the ability to reason and remember can affect how a person drives. According to the Center for Disease Control, in 2009, there were 33 million licensed drivers ages 65 and older in the United States. Meanwhile, an average of 500 older adults are injured every day in automobile accidents.

Story Pitch: Groups and associations that deal with driving and traffic safety can use this week to their advantage by amping up safety campaigns. Car manufacturers may want to stress the importance of safe driving at every age, especially for those who are older, while promoting vehicle models that have a reputation for being safe. Police and traffic safety officials can encourage people to obey the laws set forth and take precautions to stay safe on the road. In addition, occupational therapists may want to note the importance of driving fitness evaluations for people of a certain age.

Story Hook: Driving may seem like a right, but it is a privilege that some people may take for granted. According to the CDC, fatal crashes increase at age 75 per mile traveled. How can concerned family members take steps to keep their older adults safe? Consider these questions when making your pitch:

  • What types of impairments can affect a person’s driving skills?
  • How can concerned citizens address the problem at a local level?
  • What laws are in place to protect older drivers?
  • How significant is driving to an older person’s ability to remain independent and active in a community?

Tips: Car insurance specialists can advise on older driver safety statistics and offer suggestions on how to keep older drivers safe and aware. In addition, an older driver who has taken a driving fitness evaluation can discuss how they stay safe on the roads.

Resources:

American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc.
(301) 652-2682
www.aota.org

National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration
(202) 366-9550
www.nhtsa.org

National Safety Council
(630) 285-1121
into(At)nsc.org
www.nsc.org

U.S. Department of Transportation
(855) 368-4200
www.dot.gov

–Researched, compiled & written by Kimberly Cooper
Event Dates  from CHASE’S Calendar of Events