We all know at least one person who is over 70 (or 75 or 80!) with a driver's license, and the thought of them driving makes us cringe. Driving represents freedom to many of us--taking that privilege away is scary. With the baby boomers coming up on the age of 65, drivers in this age range are expected to increase by 25% in the next 10 years. Besides teenage drivers (which we have already talked about quite a bit in previous blog posts), drivers over 65 have the higher accident and fatality rates than any other age group. But, just because someone is over 65 does not necessarily mean that they are no longer a good driver. So how do we assess who should be driving and who should not?
Ford is working with the Traffic Improvement Association (TIA) to assist older drivers with evaluating their driving skills. They offered 38 workshops in hospitals and senior centers in Michigan in 2008. These workshops include both a classroom portion and an on-the-road evaluation. The classroom portion educates the attendees on the effects of aging on reflexes and cognitive skills. It also teaches them compensation skills for the diminished abilities that come with aging, as well as defensive driving techniques. The on-the-road evaluation is given by AAA-certified instructors and the students are evaluated in their own vehicles. This gives the driver the ability to assess themselves to gauge their skills and see where they may need to improve. It is also anonymous, which I am sure helps to increase participation.
Ford has taken this information and produced more safety features in their vehicles. In 2009, they will be launching new Blind Spot Mirrors, Collision Warning with Brake Support forward collision warning technology and BLIS (Blind Spot Information System) with cross-traffic alert.
For more information on this collaboration between Ford and the TIA, click here. If you live outside of Michigan and you are interested in a driver screening for yourself or a family member, search online for 'aging driver screening' and you will find a host of information. Many states have this information right on their websites.