Older Driver Safety

Older Driver Safety Awareness Week

Have you worried about your aged parents driving ability and staying safe on busy roads? Yes, it can be scary. What used to be upper limit for driving speed is now minimum driving speed in most highways. With age elderly people find it hard to drive around. If we do not have time to spare, then we need to make sure they drive safe and they should be safe on the road. If they want to be active and wish to be independent, and would like to go for shopping, dining and visiting friends we cannot stop them. With increasing age come changes in physical, mental and sensory abilities that can challenge a person’s continued ability to drive safely. But there are a variety of safe travel options for people of all ages. The real need is a broader awareness of the solutions, rather than a narrow focus on the problem.

If you see elderly person driving a vehicle at any time have patience – do not tailgate and scare them. Be respectful and allow them to drive comfortably.

Between December 5–9, 2016, The American Occupational Therapy Association aims to promote understanding of the importance of mobility and transportation to ensuring older adults remain active in the community—shopping, working or volunteering—with the confidence that transportation will not be the barrier to strand them at home.

We should get ready for change in age: Older Driver Safety Awareness Week seeks to raise awareness and increase education about the aging driver’s options. Each day of the week, AOTA spotlights a different aspect of older driver safety.  This Older Driver Safety Awareness Week highlights five topics that impact mature drivers, kicking off with anticipating the physical and mental changes that can affect driving. As people age they experience physical, sensory and cognitive changes.

According to AARP, these are some of the changes older drivers might experience:

*Changes in vision including reduced field of vision, diminished night vision and sensitivity to glare, and common conditions like glaucoma, macular degeneration and cataracts

  • Hearing loss
  • Increasing fragility, diminished strength
  • Arthritis
  • Reduced range of motion
  • Medical conditions and medications
  • Changes in cognition

By anticipating those changes, older drivers can investigate solutions that may keep them on the road longer.  Occupational therapists, especially those who specialize in driver rehab, can help drivers find answers to challenges caused by medical or physical issues.

Monday: Anticipating Changes That Can Affect Driving

Whether we want to admit it or not, aging is inevitable. The ability to drive safely can be affected by changes in our physical, emotional, and cognitive health. Although changes are a part of normal aging, they occur individually and at different rates and times. Just as one plans for retirement, it’s important to plan for transportation needs. Proactive, early planning is paramount to continued independence and safety. Occupational therapy practitioners address driving as an essential activity of daily living, and they can help older adults maintain their driving safety and community mobility despite age-related changes.

Tuesday: Family Conversations

AOTA’s Older Driver Safety Awareness Week is intentionally held each year in December because this is the time of year when families often come together for the holidays. One of the first steps in addressing older driver safety is having a nonthreatening conversation with our loved ones. Family and friends play a major role in discussions about older driver safety, and it is better to start the conversation early, allowing time for planning and the exploration of options long before the crisis or accident.

Wednesday: Screening and Evaluations With an Occupational Therapist

An older driver may decide that it is time to get a check-up on his or her driving fitness. The services described as “Driving fitness evaluations” may seem confusing, as they range from self-assessments (useful education tools to help identify potential challenges) to a professional comprehensive driving evaluation from an occupational therapy driving rehabilitation specialist. It is important for older drivers and their family members to understand the driving service they are getting, so they can act on the results in a meaningful way.

Thursday: Interventions That Can Empower Drivers

Driving intervention is based on a plan that is drawn up between the client and therapist. The goal of intervention is to explore ways for individuals to drive safely for as long as possible. Occupational therapy practitioners trained in driving rehabilitation can suggest a broad range of solutions, tailored to the individual driver. These suggestions sometimes include adaptive equipment. Occupational therapy practitioners can work with older drivers in their vehicles to see which types of equipment, if any, are necessary to help them remain comfortable and safe on the road.

Friday: Staying Engaged in the Community

When an older driver discovers the need to make adjustments to drive safely or can no longer do so, families and friends can help him or her take these changes in stride. But to do so, the older driver and the family need to know about resources for independent community mobility before driving cessation occurs. Losing one’s ability to drive, limiting the amount of driving, or changing the way one drives does not have to mean losing independence, and older adults have options to continue to stay involved in their communities.

The week started in 2009 as an initiative of the American Occupational Therapy Association. Its goal, is to “raise awareness that there really are a lot of steps between realizing there’s a problem or a challenge that’s arisen with driving to giving up the keys.”


  • http://www.aota.org/
  • http://exchange.aaa.com/
  • https://www.cars.com

Image credit: https://www.needpix.com/photo/249122/travel-bus-ride-bus-exit-road-the-front-cover-is-bus-driver-driver-man (Free for commercial use)

Author: Sumana Rao | Posted on: December 3, 2016

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