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AAA Study Finds Older Drivers Favor Greater Scrutiny

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Cover of AAA Study on Older American DriversThe vast majority of drivers ages 65 and over are in favor of greater scrutiny in license renewals for drivers in their age group, according to a new study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. An AAA press release says that in addition, almost 80% of drivers age 75 and older think there should be medical screenings for drivers in their age group.

The study finds that almost 90% of drivers 65 and older report that they have had no traffic accidents in the last two years, and no moving violations, AAA writes. And 65% of drivers age 75 and older report never using a cell phone while driving. That is in contrast to 48% of those in the 65-to-69 age group, AAA writes.

The AAA report says that previous studies of older drivers treated them as a single group; however “older senior drivers,” ages 80 and older, might differ from the younger group of older drivers in important ways. This new study’s goal was to “to examine the extent and nature of the variability in driving behaviors and safety-related attitudes among drivers ages 65-69, 70-74, and 75+, using data from the AAA Foundation’s annual Traffic Safety Culture Index survey,” the report says.

In a study done earlier this year, the AAA Foundation released a report that found that 85% of Americans 65 and older still drive, and 68% of drivers 85 and older say they drive five or more days a week. There has been an increase in the percentage of older people who have driver’s licenses, AAA writes, with 85% of Americans ages 65 and older having one, as compared to barely half that amount in the early 1970s.

The AAA Foundation is at work on a long-term study that will monitor the driving habits of more than 3,000 older drivers during the next five years, the press release says. The Foundation and AAA itself are promoting the most recent findings in conjunction with Older Driver Safety Awareness Week, which runs from Dec. 1 through Dec. 5. The week was established by the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), which seeks to encourage the understanding of the important role mobility and transportation play in helping older people to stay active in their communities, AAA writes.

AOTA notes that occupational therapists are trained to evaluate older drivers:

AOTA Podcast: Checking up on a loved one’s or your own driving fitness is important because driving requires complex physical, visual, and cognitive abilities. Occupational therapy practitioners can help.

In this 24-minute podcast … Elin Schold Davis, program manager of AOTA’s Older Driver Initiative; Anne Dickerson, Professor and Director of the Research for the Older Adult Driving Initiative at East Carolina University; and Wendy Stav, Chair of the Occupational Therapy Department at Nova Southeastern University will focus on how occupational therapy practitioners work with clients and their families on safe driving and community mobility. They cover the distinct value that occupational therapy brings to the field of driver rehabilitation, safety, and community mobility; when to question driving fitness in an older adult, what to expect during an evaluation, common misconceptions about evaluations, and real-life examples of evaluations.

Occupational therapists can help older drivers find equipment that will make their driving safer, AOTA writes.  There are many types of adaptive equipment, AOTA notes, including low effort steering, ribbons attached to seatbelts, hand controls, handlebars, OnStar, extra or extended mirrors, swing-out seats, siren detectors, bioptics, tire pressure sensors, traction control sensors, back-up cameras, seat cushions, and foot pedal extensions.


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