Seniors on the road can be a sensitive subject. Seniors are safe drivers in that they tend to wear seat belts, obey the speed limit and avoid drinking and driving. However, data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety show that crash rates begin to rise around age 65 and rise very steeply after age 80.
Most seniors are very eager to maintain their independence, which in most of the country can be quite difficult without driving. But many seniors must at some point give up driving for the safety of themselves and others. If you think it may be time for your parent or another senior to give up the keys, watch for these warning signs:
- slow reactions;
- inability to turn the neck or body enough to check blind spots;
- cognitive difficulties resulting in getting lost or calling for help;
- frequent fender benders or dents and scrapes on the car;
- difficulty reading signs and road markings.
The Independent Transportation Network, or ITNAmerica, was founded to meet the challenge of limited transportation alternatives for seniors who must give up driving. The door-to-door service is available on a membership basis in a number of communities nationwide, including Chicago and Racine, Wisconsin.
CarFit is an educational program sponsored by the AARP and AAA that helps older drivers adjust their cars’ seats, mirrors and steering wheels to properly fit them for maximum safety and comfort. CarFit events are held throughout the year and across the nation.
The AARP offers driving safety courses geared to seniors. Illinois and 33 other states mandate automobile insurance discounts for drivers who complete the course.