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Introduction: Older drivers can remain safer for
additional years if they practice the tips presented in this program.
Outline of points to be covered. Why we are here, some history, and providing
plenty of information about driving skills and how to retain or improve
them. Also make the point that when
driving becomes too difficult or too dangerous- the subject of “what’s next?”
has to be considered; more on this later in the presentation.
Emphasize age-related changes and how to
understand and cope with them. Emphasize
value of good health, because healthy seniors drive longer. Emphasize flexibility because of its
importance to seeing behind and to the side while driving. Emphasize how medications may affect
driving– and suggest that a doctor’s counsel helps resolve questions about the
effect of medications, particularly when someone is taking several that might
interact. Emphasize mobility and what
to be thinking about when driving ceases.
The demographics- this is why senior
driver/pedestrian safety is a growing issue- More seniors and more senior
drivers. (Explore the numbers to make
The particular collision problems- note
the differences between younger and older.
Young drivers have a much greater number of head-on collisions. Older drivers most often experience
collisions at crossings - that means during left turns, or crossing a busy
through street, or just trying to turn onto a through street. Explore what this means in terms of extra
awareness, extra caution, and perhaps avoidance of problem intersections. (Be very careful about recommending
three right turns instead of one left turn unless the driver is well-acquainted
with the area. Three right turns in an
unfamiliar area can lead to unexpected dangers.)
Two other ways of looking at statistics
– collisions per unit of distance and collisions per number of licensed
drivers. Note the big difference in the
curves. Why? Because seniors drive fewer miles than
younger people, so even though their per-mile collision rate is higher
(particularly at age 80 and above), their per capita rate looks much like any
other age group from 30 right up to 85.
Another calculation, this one by
The expected rate of collision involvement
within every age group is 1.0.
group above 1.0 is over-represented, and below 1.0 under-represented.
Look at the very young.
Look at older drivers.
Even up to
age 79, they are under-represented.
Only at age 80 and above do senior drivers become over-represented in
Mention that driving is for all
ages. Programs range from elementary
school aged children to older adults.
Explain the Older Californian Traffic Safety Task Force was formed in
2003 with CHP at the lead to ensure older roadway user safety.
Here is the contrast to the previous
slide. This incident occurred a few
years ago but remains vivid in memory because it was so tragic. It demonstrates the necessity to identify
problem drivers before incidents like this take place. What it does not indicate is that
every driver who attains a certain age automatically become a hazard. Age by itself cannot define a dangerous
driver. Functional changes brought on
by physical or mental problems foretell possible driving problems. Functional changes can occur at any age.
Ask audience to read these carefully.
(None of these statements is correct). Ask
them: Will you know when it’s time to stop driving? Have you thought about public transportation
as a mobility choice if you had to stop driving. (Probably not, because often public
transportation isn’t an easy choice).
But as the session proceeds, your audience should see that alternative transportation
can prove to be a workable choice.
Taking control of your driving
future. Start with vision because that
is the most common problem faced by seniors – failing eyesight. Most seniors have experienced the problems
listed here – loss of peripheral vision, difficulty seeing at night, poor
glare reaction. Contrast sensitivity is
a new term – it means the ability to pick things out of a hazy or gray
background – like cars in fog or pedestrians in rain. It’s important to be aware that aging means
a reduced contrast ability, too. Some
of these vision problems can be solved with new glasses, some may require
Nutrition - Proper eating means better
health, and eating certain foods can be particularly good for vision and the
Seniors often don’t realize driving
requires flexibility, strength and endurance.
Handling the wheel, applying brakes, maintaining steady accelerator
pressure. – require these three attributes.
Flexibility allows people to make the head motions necessary to change
lanes, to pass someone, or to start out from the curb.
If you are interested, there is a booklet
put out by the American Society on Aging (ASA) titled, “Exercises for Older
Adults” A Physical Guide for Keeping the Keys Longer.
It is also available online at
www.asaging.org/cdc or you can contact :
Live Well, Live Long
833 Market Street, Suite 511
San Francisco, CA 94103
Just as important – to remain sharp
mentally. Why? Because driving requires the ability to
divide attention (watching a bicyclist alongside while checking a signal
ahead), to react properly and in timely fashion (a ball bounces into the street
in front of your car), to be always alert (car switches lanes abruptly just ahead). List the possible activities that help
seniors stay mentally sharp – mind games, word games, math games, stimulating
Explain value of good rest. Indicate the tests provided during the
program are self-tests and are based on factual research. Then, give the 10 question sleep test at
this point. (Hard copy supplied with
information packet and the electronic copy is on the CD.)
Discuss the effects of aging on reaction
time – it typically is reduced. Discuss
the two-second rule, and make the point that for seniors a three-second rule
is even wiser. Tell audience how to
determine following distance in this manner.
Be prepared to answer the question of how to deal with cars pulling
into the space ahead. Give Reaction
Time test at this point. (Hard copy
supplied with information packet and the electronic copy is on the CD)
Medications are a big issue because of
drug side effects (drowsiness, dizziness etc.), particularly when two or more
drugs may be in the system and the interaction is not understood. Emphasize the high hazard of meds in combination
with alcohol. Make a low key pitch here
for DUI, although alcohol does not tend to be a problem factor for most senior
Some pointers here many people don’t
think about. Mirror adjustment, very helpful. Know where you’re going and the route. (This is a good place to suggest taking the
CarFit program, but before you do that be sure CarFit is available in your
Driving strategies – you discussed
following distance earlier, now point out the distractive effects of stress,
then emphasize other distractions like eating, drinking coffee, fixing hair,
cell phones. (This is an important
point because stats show distraction/inattention are proportionately big
problems for seniors).
Key slide because it hits the major
driving issues for seniors. Make sure
to reiterate here that for most seniors left turns, entering or crossing
through streets, and negotiating intersections are THE major problem
situations because the ability to judge oncoming speeds and closing distances
has diminished. Extra care needed.
Inclement weather and night driving also troublesome because of vision
degradation. Good to avoid or reduce
driving in these situations. Driving
too slow can cause other traffic to make dangerous maneuvers, and driving too
slow in the left lane of a multi-lane highway is dangerous and illegal.
Emphasize signs, signals, merging, and
lane changes because these are more frequent problems for seniors than seat
belts and alcohol. (Seniors have the highest
buckle-up rates and lowest DUI rates).
Re-emphasis of major problem situations
is good strategy. And – this is the first
time blind spots, backing, and parking lots have been mentioned, so explain
importance. Here’s where flexibility of
the neck is so important – turning to see vehicles in the blind spot.
This is a tough-sell slide because most
seniors still driving aren’t looking to quit.
Explain self-evaluation (and mention such tools as Roadwise Review, Road
to Driving Wellness) and the importance of following up if a problem becomes
known. Explain 3-tier (if time), even
showing the video if it fits. Define
the option of changing driving habits and the possibility of obtaining an area
license. Speak to the wisdom of taking
over driving capabilities with family members (children probably).
Drift into this one as an expansion of
slide 22 (last one). This slide lists
some possible ways of modifying driving to stay on the road and remain
safe. These are typical changes made by
senior drivers everywhere. These
changes often occur after family conversations.
Here’s another tough sell, but
important. Commissioner Brown has said,
“Driving is a privilege, but mobility is a right.” When driving ceases, mobility relies on the
options listed here. The key words are:
Plan for the day when you can’t drive anymore.
organizations can assist. For example,
some occupational therapists are trained to assess driving capabilities. Area Agencies on Aging and senior centers
usually have extensive information on transportation options. The 1-800 number is a statewide number that
provides access to local county transportation and social services
A little humor!