Posts Tagged ‘older driver’

Tamra JohnsonAAA Foundation study suggests that preventing falls for older drivers can make roads safer

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Mar. 24, 2016)- Older drivers with a history of falling are 40 percent more likely to be involved in crashes than their peers, according to a new study released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Falls limit an older drivers’ ability to function behind the wheel and can make driving risky for themselves and others on the road. These findings are important since annually a record 12 million older adults will experience a fall.

“Drivers age 60 and older are involved in more than 400,000 crashes each year, and it’s important that we find ways to keep them and others safe on the road.” said Peter Kissinger, President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “This research is critical because it shows that we can now use an older driver’s fall history to identify if they are at greater risk for a crash.”

The report, Associations Between Falls and Driving Outcomes in Older Adults, is the latest research released in the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s Longitudinal Research on Aging Drivers (LongROAD) project. Researchers from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus along with the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety say that falls can increase crash risk in two ways:

  • Falls can result in a loss of functional ability (i.e. wrist fractures or a broken leg), which can make it difficult for older drivers to steer or brake to avoid a crash.
  • Falls can increase an individual’s fear of falling, which can lead to a decrease in physical activity that weakens driving skills.

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“When it comes to physical health, you either use it or lose it,” said Jake Nelson, AAA’s Director of Traffic Safety and Advocacy. “Falls often scare people into being less active, but decreasing physical activity can weaken muscles and coordination and make someone more likely to be in a crash.”

The research suggests that seniors and their families should view falls as a possible early indicator of declining physical fitness.  Addressing the health issues that originally led to the fall such as lower body weakness, poor balance, slow reaction time, certain medications, dizziness, or vision problems, can help older drivers strengthen their functional ability and lower their risk for crashing or experiencing another fall in the future.

“Older drivers should find activities that enhance balance, strengthen muscles and promote flexibility,” continued Nelson.  “Even a low impact fitness training program or driver improvement course can help safely extend an older driver’s years on the road.”

Fall prevention is a great way for older drivers to keep themselves and others safe while on the road.  Those concerned about a parent or other older driver should help them monitor risk factors that address health concerns or household dangers. AAA recommends a series of exercises and stretches to improve neck, shoulder, trunk, back and overall body flexibility, which can help a driver who has suffered from a recent fall.  As a leading advocate for senior driver safety, AAA also offers a variety of programs and resources to help older drivers improve their driving performance and avoid crashes.

For more information on AAA resources for older drivers, such as RoadWise online/classroom courses or other programs that help seniors better “fit” with their vehicles, visit www.SeniorDriving.AAA.com.

Recognizing that lifestyle changes, along with innovative technologies and medical advancements, will have a significant impact on the driving experiences of the baby boomer generation, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has launched a multi-year research program to more fully understand the driving patterns and trends of older drivers in the United States. The LongROAD (Longitudinal Research on Aging Drivers) Study is designed to generate the largest and most comprehensive data base about senior drivers in existence and will support in-depth studies of senior driving and mobility to better understand risks and develop effective countermeasures.

Established by AAA in 1947, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit, publicly-supported charitable educational and research organization. Dedicated to saving lives and reducing injuries on our roads, the Foundation’s mission is to prevent crashes and save lives through research and education about traffic safety. The Foundation has funded over 300 research projects designed to discover the causes of traffic crashes, prevent them and minimize injuries when they do occur.  Visit www.AAAFoundation.org for more information on this and other research.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 56 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.  Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.

Keeping Older Adults Driving Safely

December 8th, 2015 by AAA

 

New AAA Foundation Research Reveals Effective Ways to Extend the Driving Age
 
Michael Green Contact Tile

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (Dec. 8, 2015) – Advanced automotive technologies and safe driving habits can help older motorists remain behind the wheel longer into their lives, according to two new studies by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. These findings are important because a record 36 million adults ages 65 and older drive in the United States, and this number is expected to increase substantially over the next decade. Recent Foundation research has found that seniors who give up driving are almost two times more likely to experience depression and nearly five times as likely to enter a long-term care facility.

“Permanently giving up the keys can have severe consequences for the health and mental well-being of older adults,” said Peter Kissinger, AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s President and CEO. “New technologies and a focus on safe driving can help seniors remain behind the wheel for years to come.”

The researchers examined 16 advanced vehicle technologies and determined that six of these can provide high value for older adults by potentially reducing crashes and improving the ease and comfort of driving:

  • Forward collision warning / mitigation: These systems can help prevent crashes by warning drivers of a potential collision or by automatically applying the brakes. For older drivers, this technology can improve reaction times and reduce crashes by up to 20 percent.
  • Automatic crash notification: These systems automatically alert emergency services in the event of a crash. Older drivers are more likely to suffer from the serious effects of a crash because of their age, which means these systems can provide a greater safety benefit to seniors.
  • Park assist with rearview display: This technology includes backup cameras and obstacle-detection warning systems, which can help prevent crashes when pulling out of a parking space. About 95 percent of seniors want these systems in their next vehicle, while 55 percent reported that it can help reduce driver stress and workload.
  • Parking assist with cross-traffic warning: These systems utilize radar sensor technology to notify drivers of crossing vehicles when backing out of a parking space, and on some vehicles, the systems automatically can apply the brakes to prevent a collision.
  • Semi-autonomous parking assistance: These systems take over steering while moving into a parallel parking space, which can reduce stress and make parking easier for older drivers.
  • Navigation assistance: Turn-by-turn GPS navigation systems can provide older drivers with increased feelings of safety, confidence, attentiveness and relaxation, which can help seniors remain focused on the road and comfortable behind the wheel.

“Seniors in the market for a new car may want to consider the potential long-term benefits of choosing a vehicle with advanced safety technologies,” said Jake Nelson, AAA’s Director of Traffic Safety & Advocacy. “Equipping a new car with the right features can help an aging driver remain confident behind the wheel and out of crashes.”

Older adults also can extend their driving years by adopting strategies that reduce their risk on the road. The research finds that many seniors can improve their safety by avoiding challenging situations, such as driving at night, in bad weather, during rush-hour traffic, in unfamiliar areas or on the highway. In addition, seniors who successfully continue to drive are less likely to engage in potentially distracting behaviors, such as talking on a cell phone, texting, eating, smoking or grooming in the car.  Many older drivers also are less likely to speed or frequently change lanes, which can further reduce crash risks.

In order to further help seniors chose the right vehicle, AAA has updated its Smart Features for Older Drivers tool to include 2015 makes and models. This resource can help seniors identify vehicles with features that optimize their comfort and safety. AAA provides comprehensive information on senior driving at SeniorDriving.AAA.com.

Driving is a skill that can and should be continually improved. AAA’s RoadWise online or RoadWise Driver classroom courses can help seniors get the most out of their vehicle, while reducing risk to them, their passengers and others on the road.  A comprehensive driving improvement course can help older drivers learn the most up-to-date driving techniques and understand the latest vehicle technologies.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is releasing this research during Older Driver Safety Awareness Week, which runs from Dec. 7-11, 2015.

Established by AAA in 1947, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit, publicly-supported charitable educational and research organization. Dedicated to saving lives and reducing injuries on our roads, the Foundation’s mission is to prevent crashes and save lives through research and education about traffic safety. The Foundation has funded over 300 research projects designed to discover the causes of traffic crashes, prevent them and minimize injuries when they do occur.  Visit www.AAAFoundation.org for more information on this and other research.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 55 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Michael Green Contact TileAAA Foundation for Traffic Safety Survey Provides In-Depth Data on Americans’ Driving Habits

WASHINGTON, D.C., (April 16, 2015) – On average, Americans drive 29.2 miles per day, making two trips with an average total duration of 46 minutes. This and other revealing data are the result of a ground-breaking study currently underway by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and the Urban Institute.

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The Foundation’s new American Driving Survey offers the most up-to-date, comprehensive look at how much Americans drive on a daily and yearly basis.  First-year data, collected May 2013 through May 2014, is available now from the ongoing study, which will set the benchmark for future data and ultimately reveal trends in Americans’ driving habits.

“This is the first ongoing study that provides a look at when and how much Americans are driving,” said Peter Kissinger, President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “Existing federal data with this level of detail was last released in 2009, eight years after the previous release. This substantially limits the extent to which we can use existing data to draw conclusions about Americans’ current driving habits.”

The first-year results of the American Driving Survey revealed that:

  • Motorists age 16 years and older drive, on average, 29.2 miles per day or 10,658 miles per year.
  • Women take more driving trips, but men spend 25 percent more time behind the wheel and drive 35 percent more miles than women.
  • Both teenagers and seniors over the age of 75 drive less than any other age group; motorists 30-49 years old drive an average 13,140 miles annually, more than any other age group.
  • The average distance and time spent driving increase in relation to higher levels of education. A driver with a grade school or some high school education drove an average of 19.9 miles and 32 minutes daily, while a college graduate drove an average of 37.2 miles and 58 minutes.
  • Drivers who reported living “in the country” or “a small town” drive greater distances (12,264 miles annually) and spend a greater amount of time driving than people who described living in a “medium sized town” or city (9,709 miles annually).
  • Motorists in the South drive the most (11,826 miles annually), while those in the Northeast drive the least (8,468 miles annually).
  • On average, Americans drive fewer miles on the weekend than on weekdays.
  • Americans drive, on average, the least during winter months (January through March) at 25.7 miles daily; they drive the most during the summer months (July through September) at 30.6 miles daily.

“This new data, when combined with available crash data, will allow us to conduct unique, timely studies on crash rates for the first time,” continued Kissinger. “This will allow us to identify specific problems and evaluate various safety countermeasures to a degree never before possible.”

Results from the American Driver Survey were based on telephone interviews with a nationwide sample of 3,319 drivers who reported detailed information about all their driving trips taken the day before the interview. Data collection is ongoing; the information reported in the first-year results was collected between May 21, 2013 and May 31, 2014. The full results from the inaugural American Driving Survey are available online at www.aaafoundation.org.

Established by AAA in 1947, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a 501(c) (3) not-for-profit, publicly supported charitable educational and research organization.  Dedicated to saving lives and reducing injuries on our roads, the Foundation’s mission is to prevent crashes and save lives through education about traffic safety. The Foundation has funded more than 200 research projects designed to discover the causes of traffic crashes, prevent them, and minimize injuries when they do occur. Visit www.aaafoundation.org for more information on this and other research.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 55 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the internet at AAA.com.

Nancy WhiteLocal CarFit Event Pushes Participant Level to 50,000 Drivers Mark

Pensacola, FL, (April 9, 2015)–Designed to help older drivers find a better “fit” with their cars, the CarFit program reached a proud milestone welcoming the 50,000th driver at a Pensacola event today.  The program was created through a partnership between AAA, AARP and the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) to help promote conversations between older drivers and their families about driving safety, maximize safe driving independence, and help seniors get a better comfort and safety fit behind the wheel.

CarFit events use a trained team, including occupational therapy practitioners, to assist older drivers with items such as:

  • A clear line-of-sight over the steering wheel;
  • Adequate space between the front air bag/steering wheel and the driver’s breastbone;
  • Properly adjusted head restraints;
  • Proper positioning on gas and brake pedals;
  • Proper seat belt use and fit, and safe positioning of mirrors to minimize blind spots.

“As we age, changes in our vision, flexibility, strength, range of motion and even size and height may make us less comfortable and reduce our control behind the wheel,” said Rhonda Shah, AAA spokesperson. CarFit provides older adults with the tools to understand and apply the safety features of their car.”

According to a national survey of more than 7,000 seniors, the top four “fit” challenges for older drivers included:

  • Improper distance from steering wheel (59 percent);
  • Adequate and safe views from side mirrors (32 percent);
  • Improper seat height (28 percent) and improper head restraint height (21 percent)

The encouraging news is that after a run through the CarFit twelve-point checklist, 97 percent of participants’ issues were resolved.

Other survey findings revealed that nine in 10 older drivers buckle up when they get behind the wheel and more than a third have taken driver improvement courses. “These data tell us that despite the common perception that seniors are a menace on the road, they’re actually among the safest drivers behind the wheel,” said Shah.

With Florida home to more than 3.4 million residents age 65 and older who represent 20 percent of Florida’s licensed driving population, it’s no surprise that CarFit is a popular program.  The Florida Department of Transportation through their Safe Mobility for Life Coalition is working to help reduce the number of crashes among older Floridians while also improving their safety, access, and mobility. The CarFit program is a natural fit for FDOT along with its’ state and local partnerships as they work together to help make roads safer for older drivers. 

Nancy WhiteLatest AAA Foundation Report on Aging Americans Finds Surprising Results 

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Washington, D.C., (Dec. 1, 2014) – While senior drivers favor tougher driving laws, from bans on wireless devices to ignitions interlocks for first time DUI offenders, an overwhelming majority support greater scrutiny in the license-renewal process for themselves and their peers, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s latest report on aging Americans.  More than seven out of 10 drivers age 65 and older favor policies that require drivers age 75 and older to renew their license in person and also support requirements that seniors pass a medical screening to remain licensed.
The AAA Foundation’s report Older American Drivers and Traffic Safety Culture  also found:

  • Nearly 80 percent of drivers over age 75  favor medical screenings for drivers ages 75 and older
  • Nearly 90 percent of older drivers (65 and older) reported no  crashes in the last two years
  • Similarly, 90 percent of older drivers reported no moving violations
  • 65 percent of drivers age 75 and older reported never using  a cell phone while driving compared to only 48 percent of the younger “older” drivers (those age 65-69) who never use a phone when behind the wheel

“Even though public perception tends to unfairly characterize seniors as a menace on the road, these findings indicate that older Americans tend to support policies to keep themselves safer behind the wheel, making them key allies in their mission to keep driving–smarter and longer.” says Peter Kissinger, President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. ”

Earlier this year, the AAA Foundation also released the Understanding Older Drivers:  an Examination of Medical Conditions, Medication Use and Travel Behaviors report that found:

  • 86 percent of those age 65 and older still drive
  • 84 percent of Americans age 65 and older hold a driver’s license compared to barely half in the early 1970s
  • 68 percent of drivers age 85 plus report driving five or more days a week

In addition to these reports, the AAA Foundation is currently taking a long-term look at aging drivers with a study that will systematically monitor the driving habits of more than 3,000 senior drivers over the next five years.

“With nearly nine out of ten seniors aged 65 and older still driving, it appears that additional years behind the wheel not only make drivers older, but wiser,” said Jake Nelson, AAA’s director of traffic safety advocacy and research. “As older adults live longer and spend more time behind the wheel, it’s promising to see a trend towards a more pro-safety culture with increasing age.”

The AAA Foundation and AAA are promoting these latest findings to support Older Driver Safety Awareness Week, which is December 1-5, 2014.  Established by the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), this week aims to promote understanding of the importance of mobility and transportation to ensure older adults remain active in the community and that   transportation will not be the barrier stranding them at home. You can learn more about the AOTA here.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Established by AAA in 1947, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a 501(c) (3) not-for-profit, publicly-supported charitable educational and research organization. Dedicated to saving lives and reducing injuries on our roads, the Foundation’s mission is to prevent crashes and save lives through research and education about traffic safety. The Foundation has funded over 200 research projects designed to discover the causes of traffic crashes, prevent them, and minimize injuries when they do occur.  Visit www.aaafoundation.org for more information on this and other research.

Nancy WhiteNew report from AAA Foundation reveals increase in driving years, habits and medication use.

Washington, D.C., (May 8, 2014) –  According to a new report from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, older Americans are extending their time behind the wheel compared to previous generations.  For example, 84 percent of Americans 65 and older held a driver’s license in 2010 compared to barely half in the early 1970s. Today, one in six drivers on U.S. roads are ages 65 and older and this new research shows an increased automobility of older drivers with travel patterns indicating about a 20 percent increase in trips and a 33 percent increase in miles travelled between 1990 and 2009.

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While upward trends indicate greater mobility for the silver tsunami, the Understanding Older Drivers: An Examination of Medical Conditions, Medication Use and Travel Behaviors report reveals that 90 percent of older drivers also use prescription medications with two-thirds taking multiple medications. Previous Foundation research has shown that combinations of medications, both prescription and over- the-counter, can result in an impairment in safe driving ability.

“This level of medication use does raise concerns, yet evidence indicates seniors are fairly cautious,” said AAA Foundation President and CEO Peter Kissinger. “In fact, these findings show that older drivers using medications are more likely to regulate their driving – reducing daily travel, avoiding driving at night or driving fewer days per week.”

The report also reveals gender differences when it comes to medication-use behind the wheel.  Older women that use medications are more likely to regulate their driving compared to men and, even without a medical condition, female drivers drive less than their male counterparts with a medical condition.

Additional key highlights from the report include:

  • 25 percent of men and 18 percent of women remain in the workforce after age 65, resulting in more than double the work-related commutes for drivers 65 and older compared to 20 years ago.
  • 68 percent drivers age 85 or older report driving five or more days per week.
  • Three-quarters of drivers ages 65 and older with a medical condition report reduced daily driving.
  • Self-regulatory behavior, among those taking multiple medications or having a medical condition, declines with increasing income.  Female drivers ages 65-69 with an annual income under $13,000 were 62 percent more likely to restrict nighttime driving than women with incomes over $70,000.

Knowing that medication use is very high among senior drivers, the AAA Foundation and AAA developed confidential, educational tools such as Roadwise Rx to help seniors and their families understand common side-effects of prescription and over-the-counter medications, herbal supplements and foods.

“AAA’s Roadwise Rx is an online tool that generates personalized feedback about how these interactions between prescription and over-the-counter medicines and herbal supplements can impact safety behind the wheel,” said AAA’s Director of Traffic Safety Advocacy, Jake Nelson. “Drivers are encouraged to discuss the confidential results with their doctor or pharmacist to learn how to mitigate possible crash risks.” To access all the free resources AAA offers to senior drivers, visit SeniorDriving.AAA.com.

The AAA Foundation study primarily analyzed the most recent data from two national databases – the 2009 National Household Travel Survey (NHTS) and the 2011 National Health and Aging Trends Study (NHATS).

Established by AAA in 1947, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a 501(c) (3) not-for-profit, publicly-supported charitable educational and research organization. Dedicated to saving lives and reducing injuries on our roads, the Foundation’s mission is to prevent crashes and save lives through research and education about traffic safety. The Foundation has funded over 200 research projects designed to discover the causes of traffic crashes, prevent them, and minimize injuries when they do occur.  Visit www.aaafoundation.org for more information on this and other research.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Nancy White(February 3, 2014) Yesterday’s unfortunate crash in Florida involving an older driver that left three dead and others injured should serve as a wake-up call for families to have a conversation with the aging drivers in their lives before tragedy strikes close to home.

While details of the crash are still under investigation, AAA’s safety expert questions if the tragic incident could have been prevented. “While safe driving is a function of ability not just age, older drivers and their families need to be mindful that as the body ages, medical conditions including visual and cognitive impairments become more prevalent, so it’s critical to understand how these changes can affect a person’s ability to drive safely,” said AAA’s Director of Traffic Safety Advocacy & Research Jake Nelson.

As a leading advocate for senior driver safety and mobility, AAA is urging families to prepare now and have that conversation with the aging drivers in their families and even consider adopting a Driver Planning Agreement as a way to initiate the conversation with loved ones. With 10,000 Americans a day turning 65, an increasing number of families will be faced with the challenge of balancing safety and mobility for older loved ones. “Data tell us that Americans know they need to begin the discussion but often don’t know how.  Driver assessment tools, conversation starters and links to community resources can make the process less intimidating,” said Nelson.

For more information on AAA’s free resources for senior drives and their families, including how to begin addressing this challenging issue today, visit SeniorDriving.AAA.com.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers

Nancy WhiteAAA’s list helps “silver tsunami” match health concerns with helpful vehicle features

Washington, D.C., (Dec. 2, 2013) – Seniors shopping for a new ride can find “smart” features in  today’s cars that help alleviate a variety of age-related health conditions that typically challenge older drivers, according to AAA.  Nearly 90 percent of motorists 65 and older suffer from health concerns that affect driving safety, for example, lack of flexibility and muscle strength.  To help inform seniors about smart car choices, AAA’s automotive experts reviewed more than 200 2013 model year makes and models to identify features that better equip seniors for driving safety and comfort in an update to Smart Features for Older Drivers.

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“Although older Americans are healthier now more than ever before, the aging process can diminish a person’s vision or limit range of motion that could impact their driving,” said AAA Director of Traffic Safety Advocacy and Research, Jake Nelson. “The good news is that AAA found that more than 200 vehicles have one or more smart features that can help the aging driver deal more effectively with these conditions.”

To help underscore the need to improve older driver safety as 10,000 Americans turn 65 every day, AAA originally launched Smart Features for Older Drivers in partnership with the University of Florida’s Institute for Mobility, Activity and Participation in 2008.  In the recent update, Smart Features lists 2013 vehicle features that optimize older driver safety and comfort, notes current vehicles with those features, and allows users to explore their individual needs through an interactive online widget [SeniorDriving.AAA.com/SmartFeatures] at SeniorDriving.AAA.com.

Because everyone ages differently, AAA advises older drivers to look for vehicles that address their specific needs and medical conditions.  Recommendations included in Smart Features for Older Drivers, include:

Condition: Feature: Why it’s smart:
Limited knee range of motion; Hip or leg pain Six way adjustable seats Less strength to adjust, Easier to enter and exit car
Arthritic hands; stiff fingers Keyless entry and ignition Reduce amount of grip strength
Diminished fine motor skills Thick steering wheel Reduce pain associated w/ twisting and turning
Diminished vision; problems with high-low contrast Displays with contrasting text Reduce blinding glare

“A 2012 survey revealed that only one in 10 senior drivers with health issues are driving a vehicle with features like keyless entry or larger dashboard controls that can assist with such conditions,” said Nelson.  “AAA’s goal is to empower older drivers with information that can help keep them safer behind the wheel.”

AAA is announcing the Smart Features update in support of the American Occupational Therapy Association’s (AOTA) Older Driver Safety Awareness Week, December 2-6, 2013.  This week aims to promote understanding of the importance of mobility and transportation to ensure older adults remain active in the community—shopping, working or volunteering—with the confidence that transportation will not be the barrier stranding them at home. You can learn more about the AOTA here.

For more information on which vehicles are the right fit for you and to access all the free resources AAA offers to senior drivers, visit SeniorDriving.AAA.com.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Despite popular belief, senior drivers engage in safe driving habits especially older women

Nancy WhiteWASHINGTON, D.C., (May 1, 2013)–Nine in 10 older drivers buckle up when they get behind the wheel and more than a third have taken driver improvement courses, according to data surveying more than 7,000 seniors. Survey findings, collected by AAA, the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) and AARP also reveal that twice the number of women attended driver safety courses despite the fact that older men drove more often than older women by 12 percent. AAA is promoting the data to help debunk the perception that older drivers are a menace on the road.

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“The silver tsunami is often unfairly dubbed as risky and dangerous. These data tell us that they practice safe driving behaviors and that more than a third of older drivers have actively sought out and participated in programs to improve their skills,” says AAA’s Director of Traffic Safety Advocacy and Research Jake Nelson.  The findings were collected from drivers who participated in CarFit, a free program offered by AAA, AOTA and AARP.  Typically offered at community events, CarFit runs drivers and their vehicles through a twelve-point checklist with trained technicians who assess the fit of a driver’s car by checking for optimum and safe settings such as distance from and sight line above the steering wheel and proper mirrors settings.

According to CarFit participant data, the top four “fit” challenges for older drivers included improper distance from steering wheel (59 percent); adequate and safe views from side mirrors (32 percent); improper seat height (28 percent) and improper head restraint height (21 percent).  The good news is that after a run through the CarFit twelve-point program, 97 percent of participants’ issues were resolved.

Since CarFit launched nationally, more than 31,000 older drivers have gone through the program.  “While the primary goal is to teach drivers how to attain a safe and comfortable fit, the program also increases awareness that adaptations and modifications are available when medical conditions or changes make finding the best fit difficult,” says occupational therapist Elin Schold David of AOTA. “CarFit benefits the whole community by helping the senior driver be a safer driver.”

Other survey data revealed that more than half (52 percent) of drivers 65 and older typically drive seven days a week. “Even when they’re driving every day, seniors do not pose a disproportionate threat on the roads,” said Nelson. “In fact, drivers in their mid-to-late 80s have lower crash rates per mile driven than drivers in their early 20s and roughly half the crash rate of teenagers.”

As a leading road safety advocate for more than 110 years, AAA provides expert advice and helpful resources for older adults and their families—working to support them as they tackle the challenges of balancing safety and mobility. SeniorDriving.AAA.com provides convenient, online access to a wealth of interactive material and AAA’s Senior Driver Safety Expos offer a local hands-on opportunity to sample AAA’s suite of free tools and programs.

To view results from AAA’s survey of older drivers visit NewsRoom.AAA.com.  For more information on AAA’s free resources for senior drives and their families, visit SeniorDriving.AAA.com.  As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

AAA research helps “silver tsunami” match vehicle features to health concerns

Washington, D.C., (Dec. 3, 2012) – With nearly 90 percent of motorists 65 and older suffering from   health issues that affect driving safety, finding a car that not only adapts to conditions, such as lack of flexibility or muscle strength, while maintaining safety and comfort can be difficult.  Data from a new AAA survey also reveals that only one in 10 senior drivers with aging health issues are driving a vehicle that has features like keyless entry and larger dashboard controls that can assist with such conditions.

Additional Resources

To better equip the “silver tsunami” for driving safety and comfort, AAA has updated its Smart Features for Older Drivers resource to address a broader range of health conditions and include new data on 2012 vehicle features.  As a leading advocate for senior driver safety, AAA launched Smart Features for Older Drivers in partnership with the University of Florida’s Institute for Mobility, Activity and Participation in 2008. In the update, Smart Features identifies vehicle features that optimize older driver safety and comfort, lists current vehicles with those features, and allows users to explore their individual needs through an interactive online tool.

“With 10,000 Americans turning 65 every day, we know that families will be coping with these age-related driving safety issues for years to come,” said AAA President & CEO Robert Darbelnet. “The good news is that specific ‘smart features’ on today’s cars can help older drivers and their families deal with these conditions.”

 Smart Features addresses a wide variety of conditions that are commonly experienced with aging, including diminished vision, arthritic joints, hip and leg pain and limited upper-body range of motion. “As a person ages, muscle strength, range of motion and vision tend to diminish and can affect driving ability,” said Dr. Sherrilene Classen, Director, Institute for Mobility, Activity and Participation at the University of Florida. “Not only do these conditions affect a driver’s comfort, their presence can also reduce the ability to safely execute the complex task of driving.”

Because everyone ages differently, AAA recommends older drivers look for vehicles that address their specific needs and medical conditions. Some of the recommendations included in Smart Features for Older Drivers include:

  • Drivers suffering from hip or leg pain, decreased leg strength or limited knee range of motion should look for vehicles with six-way adjustable power seats and seat heights that come between the driver’s mid-thigh and lower buttocks. These features can make it easier for drivers to enter and exit a vehicle.
  • Drivers with arthritic hands, painful or stiff fingers or diminished fine motor skills benefit from four-door models, thick steering wheels, keyless entry and ignition, power mirrors and seats and larger dashboard controls with buttons. These features reduce the amount of grip strength needed and reduce pain associated with turning or twisting motions.
  • Drivers with diminished vision or problems with high-low contrast will find vehicles with auto-dimming mirrors, large audio and climate controls and displays with contrasting text helpful. These features can reduce blinding glare and make controls and displays easier to see.

Underscoring the critical need to improve older driver safety is new research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety that found that older drivers have the highest rates of death compared to other drivers largely due to their inability to survive a crash.  Conversely, the research found significant gains in overall motorists’ safety in the past decade. While crashes per mile driven decreased for drivers of all ages between 1995 and 2010 by 28 percent, the biggest decreases were found in drivers ages 75-79, down 42 percent; and drivers ages 80-84, down 40 percent.

AAA is highlighting these new materials in support of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) Older Driver Safety Awareness Week, December 3–7, 2012.  AOTA’s Older Driver Safety Awareness Week aims to promote understanding of the importance of mobility and transportation to ensure older adults remain active in the community—shopping, working or volunteering—with the confidence that transportation will not be the barrier stranding them at home. You can learn more about the AOTA here.

For more information on which vehicles are the right fit for you and to access all the free resources AAA offers to senior drivers, visit SeniorDriving.AAA.com.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

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