Older Drivers: Driving and Aging

It’s certainly true that we all age differently. While that point can’t be argued, it still doesn’t dodge the question of how and why we need to monitor drivers as they age. For older drivers, this might seem unfair. However, the more our age increases, the more of a risk we become to both ourselves and others while driving. That’s because the probability of decline cognitively, visually, and physical increases, and that can most certainly affect our driving. This article isn’t being written to suggest that older drivers aren’t safe. In fact, most older drivers are extremely safe, and drivers that are older than 65 years of age made up about 18.3% of all drivers on the road in 2015. Many of these drivers are still safe; for example in 2015, drivers older than 65 years of age were involved in only 9 percent of all vehicle crashes.

Still, there is an increased likelihood that or drivers can become injured or killed while driving not only because their decreasing cognitive and visual capabilities can call their driving into question, but because they are more likely to be fragile and require more time and effort to recover from injury. That could be one of the reasons why 25% of all traffic fatalities in the state of Minnesota comes from people over 65 years of age.

Older Driver Task Force Grant Program

Currently, the Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) in Minnesota is offering to award a grant to a 401C3 qualified non-profit or government entity that can enforce traffic safety. The overall objective for implementing that traffic safety is to reduce crashes as well as the likelihood of experiencing injuries and death where older drivers concern themselves. People that wish to apply to the program should work or represent organizations that are trained or experiences in elderly driver traffic safety issues and should also know how to outreach successfully to the community. If your organization is interesting in applying, make sure to read the 2019 Older Driver Task Force Grant Request for Proposal (RFP).

Aging Driver Publication

Also, for individuals that want more information, the July 2015 issue of the Twin Cities Business Magazine included an aging driver publication. The goal of this publication was to help raise awareness about the safety issues surrounding elderly drivers, and also to provide helpful resource outlets for aging drivers and the families of aging drivers. The title of the publication is “A Roadmap for Driving Later in Life” and it offers a description of the issues and risks associated with increasing age in elderly drivers. The article also discusses how people are living longer, resulting in an overall increase in the aging driver population. If you’d like to order a copy of this article, you can do so by accessing the state’s Educational Materials. 

Talking to Older Family Members

Many aging drivers do a good job of regulating their own driving skills, and are fairly honest about their driving performances. For instance, the voluntarily refrain from driving while it is dark out or wandering too far from home. If you have an aging driver in your household, pay attention to the way they drive. Be prepared to kindly being the discussion of when they should stop driving, and if they do, how they’ll be able to get around. Keep in mind that this issue can touch a sensitive nerve in older drivers.

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