Older adults with discomfort or low confidence while driving are cutting back their time on the road, according to new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
AAA research shows these drivers reduce driving in various situations including:
- At night
- On the freeway
- In afternoon rush hour traffic
- In unfamiliar areas
Some of the self-regulated changes older drivers make can be unnecessary and do not always improve safety. In order to extend their mobility and reduce risk on the road, AAA recommends older drivers consult a healthcare professional when feelings of driving discomfort arise.
“By addressing issues of discomfort early, older drivers can learn more about age-related changes to their body and discuss strategies with their healthcare provider to best compensate for declines,” said Mark Jenkins, spokesman, AAA – The Auto Club Group.
While self-regulation is often the best solution to allow older drivers to continue driving safely, some changes can create unintended consequences on the roadway. For example, using side streets to avoid the freeway can also increase an older drivers’ risk of a crash by increasing the distance traveled and their exposure on the road.
“Oftentimes, simple adjustments to your vehicle, a driver refresher course or a change to your prescription medications can improve comfort and safety behind the wheel,” Jenkins continued. “The key is to speak up about it.”
When older drivers begin to experience physical changes to the body or feelings of driving discomfort, AAA recommends:
- Talk About It: Visit a doctor or occupational therapy driver rehabilitation specialist to determine the cause of your discomfort and evaluate potential solutions.
- Educate Yourself: You can evaluate your driving performance using tools like AAA’s Driver65Plus to determine your strengths and weaknesses and learn ways to improve your driving.
- Consider a driver improvement course to help refresh your driving knowledge, get the most out of your vehicle and reduce risk on the road.
- Make Changes: Once you know the cause of your discomfort, make needed vehicle adjustments. Free programs like CarFit can help older drivers learn about changes they can make to their vehicles to better fit their needs.
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.
About the AAA LongROAD Study
Recognizing that lifestyle changes, and 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 launched a ground-breaking, multi-year research program to more fully understand and meet the safety and mobility needs of older drivers in the United States. The AAA LongROAD (Longitudinal Research on Aging Drivers) is one of the largest and most comprehensive studies available on senior drivers with 2,990 participants being followed for five years. It will support in-depth studies of senior driving and mobility to better understand risks and develop effective countermeasures.