Why Older Driver Safety Awareness Week Matters

older driver© Rendery / Getty Images Signature / Canva

This year, Older Driver Safety Awareness Week is December 5-9. The goal of this week is to raise awareness about the challenges that older drivers face and to provide information on how we can all help keep them safe on the road.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2020 there were 55.7 million people in the United States who were over the age of 65. That’s 17% of the population! Simply getting older doesn’t mean individuals have to hang up their keys. The risk of crashes for older drivers is in part related to physical, visual, and cognitive changes associated with aging, medical conditions and the medications used to treat them.

Keeping Our Older Drivers Safe on the Road

We all want to enjoy our golden years. Unfortunately, as we age, our driving skills can decline. Here are some tips on how to stay safe on the road as you get older.

How Aging Can Affect Driving: Medical Conditions and Medications
One way aging can affect our driving is through medical conditions and the medications used to treat them. It’s important to tell your doctor about all the medications you’re taking, including over-the-counter drugs and supplements, as they can interact and cause drowsiness or other side effects. Some medical conditions that can impair driving include but are not limited to:

  • Dementia
  • Diabetes
  • Vision problems

Systematic medical conditions such as these often come with a warning from doctors not to drive. If you have any doubts about your abilities behind the wheel, it is best to listen to your doctor’s recommendation.

Older Drivers and Vehicles: Adapted Vehicles and Driver Assistance Technologies
As we age, it becomes more difficult to turn our heads to check blind spots or read street signs. There are many helpful driver assistance technologies available that can help us drive more safely as we age. For example, some cars now have blind spot monitoring systems sensors in the rear bumper that detect when another car enters your blind spot. When this happens, a light will appear in your side mirror, warning you that it’s not safe to change lanes at that time.

Another useful technology for older drivers is lane departure warning. This uses a camera mounted on the windshield to detect painted lines on the road. If you start to drift out of your lane without using a turn signal, the system will sound an alert, encouraging you to correct your course.

Some cars also come with adaptive cruise control, which uses sensors to maintain a safe following distance between you and the car ahead of you, even if that car slows down or speeds up. This can be especially helpful if you find yourself getting tired while driving long distances.

No matter how old we are, we all want to stay independent and maintain our quality of life for as long as possible. With a little bit of planning and some attention to detail, we can all continue to enjoy driving well into our golden years. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers free educational resources for older drivers and their caretakers. These resources can help everyone enjoy their later years more.

How to Observe Older Driver Safety Awareness Week

Here are some ways you can participate in this year’s Older Driver Safety Awareness Week.

Host A Driving Session For Seniors
One of the best ways to celebrate Older Driver Safety Awareness Week is to host a driving session for seniors. Teach them about the importance of driving safety and the measures they can take to secure themselves. Discuss things like choosing routes with well-lit roads and keeping their car in good condition. You could also go over some basic defensive driving techniques. If you’re not a qualified driving instructor, you could always ask one to come and speak at your session.

Post About It On Social Media
Another great way to create awareness is to post about it on social media. Use hashtags like #OlderDriverSafetyAwarenessWeek or #DriveSafeSeniorCitizens. Urge your friends and followers, especially those who have elderly parents or grandparents, to read up on driving safety tips and share your posts. You could even write a blog post about it and share it on social media. By using social media, you can reach a huge number of people and make a real difference.

Print Flyers And Circulate Them Around Your Town
You can also create awareness by printing flyers and circulating them around your town. Flyers are more likely to reach the elderly faster. Free downloads are available from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Put up flyers in community centers, supermarkets, churches, temples, mosques, etc. You could even put them up in doctors’ offices and clinics since older people tend to visit these places frequently. Make sure that you put them up in places where they’ll be easily noticed by senior citizens.

Older Driver Safety Awareness Week is a great time to spread the message about safe driving among senior citizens. There are many ways to do this, such as hosting a driving session, posting on social media, or circulating flyers around your town. By taking part in this weeklong event, you can help make our roads safer for everyone.

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This article is intended for informational, entertainment or educational purposes only and should not be construed as advice, guidance or counsel. It is provided without warranty of any kind.