Not every older driver needs to turn in their keys. There are ways to keep driving safely for many people. From high tech tools to plain old common sense, these strategies could help keep your parents safe when driving.
According to research on improving elder driver safety, there are nearly 42 million Americans age 65+ licensed to drive. That represents almost 20% of all drivers. It’s not only a large group — it’s one that’s growing.
The Sometimes Bumpy Road to Safety
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, senior drivers are involved in more fatal crashes than other groups. But this trend has less to do with declining driving skills than it does with an older driver’s tendency to experience medical problems or sustain an injury.
Good news: Research also reveals that senior drivers are likely to adjust their driving style as they grow older. Example: It’s not uncommon for aging motorists to reduce or avoid driving during inclement weather, or limit night driving.
Technology is Driving the Safety Conversation
The best way to keep older adults behind the wheel longer is to help them stay safe. One way to accomplish this is to equip cars with in-vehicle technology-based solutions that can make up for slips in motoring skills. Voice-command systems are one of many technology tools that are proving to enhance driver safety. These tools often come as standard equipment in new vehicles. But they are also offered as aftermarket products that can be installed in your mom or dad’s existing car.
13 Safety Products for Older Drivers
Here are 13 products designed to help older drivers stay safe. Many of these assist not just older drivers, but the caregivers who transport them.
- Seatbelt adaptors that enable drivers to put the belt on more easily
- Hand-controlled acceleration and braking
- Removable grab bars that give drivers something to hold onto as the enter and exit the vehicle
- OnStar services to help with navigation and emergency services
- Special mirrors that expand peripheral vision
- Swing-out seats that make vehicle entry easier
- Siren alerts for drivers with hearing challenges
- Bioptics that can be attached to eyeglasses to assist a driver with very low vision
- Tire pressure sensors
- Traction control sensors
- Dashboard-mounted, wireless back-up cameras
- Seat cushions
- Pedal foot extensions that make pedals easier to reach
AAA Will Check Vehicle Safety and Give Tips
In a move designed to help seniors stay on the road safer and longer, AAA teamed up with several partners and developed CarFit. This program provides a 12-point vehicle check, and gives qualified specialists a chance to observe elderly drivers in their cars — creating the chance to have a conversation about tools for safer driving.
Tips For Elderly Drivers Who Want to Be Safe
While the high-tech tools covered above can give a boost to safety, there’s no replacing common sense. The Mayo Clinic shared seven things seniors (and people who care about them) can do to continue enjoying driving privileges safely and confidently:
1. Stay physically active
2. Schedule regular vision and hearing tests
3. Manage chronic conditions — especially those that might impact driving skills
4. Understand the driver’s limitations
5. Drive when the road — and the driver — are in good condition
6. Stash the cellphone and focus on the road
7. Update driving skills with a refresher course for older drivers
Balancing safety concerns with the desire for independence is the perfect opener for a conversation with your parent. Be supportive, help your mother or father be realistic — and always keep your eyes on the road ahead.