Many senior centers and organizations offer programs that allow elderly drivers to brush up on their skills behind the wheel.

Many senior centers and organizations offer programs that allow elderly drivers to brush up on their skills behind the wheel.

The number of drivers 70 and over is predicted to triple in North America over the next 20 years. Research indicates that the older a person is, the higher the risk of driver accident or fatality. The risk posed by older drivers and the inevitable increase in older drivers on the road over the next two decades has sparked debate as to whether or not such drivers should be reexamined to ensure safety on the road?

Though the debate about older drivers figures to remain a hot topic, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration notes that aging can affect drivers in a number of ways. The physical and mental changes that accompany aging can have a profound impact on a person’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. Reaction times may be slower, hearing and vision loss may affect driver awareness, loss of muscle strength and flexibility can make steering more difficult and medication can impair focus and/or concentration.

Many senior centers and organizations offer programs that allow elderly drivers to brush up on their skills behind the wheel. Drivers also can contact their insurance companies to see if there are any sponsored classes they can take to reassess their skills and possibly lower their insurance premiums. AAA offers a Driver Improvement course and suggests seniors find a car they can safely and comfortably operate. AAA also offers Roadwise Rx, a free online tool that provides confidential, individualized feedback about medication side effects and how these drugs may impact drivers on the road. AARP also offers a Driver Safety course.

It also is important that senior drivers and their families familiarize themselves with local legislation to determine if driver refresher courses or retesting are necessary for older drivers to remain behind the wheel.


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