December is a time of many holiday festivities and family get-togethers. Here in Massachusetts, it’s also a time of snow and cautious driving. Older Driver Safety Awareness Week in the first week of December is an opportunity to promote the importance of safe driving among older adults.
Nearly four in five people 70 and older in the U.S. have driver’s licenses, representing 11% of all drivers. For most adults, driving is an essential part of independent and social living, but sometimes, older adults face physical and mental changes that can affect their driving ability. Many resources are available to help you assess and improve older adults’ ability to drive safely and comfortably and identify alternative transportation methods if necessary.
Learn More about Older Driver Safety
The American Occupational Therapy Association offers a series of helpful articles – one for each day of the week – discussing different aspects of older driver safety:
- Monday: Identifying Changes That Can Affect Driving
- Tuesday: Family Conversations
- Wednesday: Screening Evaluations With an Occupational Therapist
- Thursday: Equipment That Can Empower Drivers
- Friday: Taking Changes in Stride
These articles are a helpful introduction to the topic for both healthy aging professionals and relatives of older adults.
There are also resources to better understand how medical conditions and medications can affect driving ability. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration created a video series to explain how medical conditions like arthritis and complications from diabetes can affect driver mobility and vision. With two-thirds of senior drivers taking multiple medications, this interactive tool by AAA is a way to check whether medications might affect safe driving ability.
Alternative Transportation Methods
Older adults may feel that their independence is at risk when they give up their car keys. However, giving up driving doesn’t mean giving up mobility. It’s important to be aware of what those alternative transportation methods are in order to utilize them. Alternative transportation options and services can include volunteer driver programs, paratransit services (like the RIDE), travel training, and transportation vouchers programs.
MassMobility is an initiative that helps support and increase transportation options for seniors, people with disabilities, and others who lack access to transportation. They offer resources to help people find rides, increase the capacity and efficiency of community transportation coordination, and technical assistance on transportation challenges. Regional Coordinating Councils identify transportation needs and advocate for and coordinate transportation resources in the local community. ITNGreater Boston matches volunteer drives with older adults in their community who can no longer drive – read more about their program in this story, Keeping Seniors Connected.
More information about these groups and resources can be found on Mass.gov’s Community Transportation Coordination page.
Learn more about transportation options in Massachusetts at these upcoming events:
- December 9: Transportation Forum and Boston Core Regional Coordinating Council (RCC) Launch. Attendees will learn more about the RCC initiative, hear from transportation providers in Boston and Brookline, and discuss local transportation challenges.
- December 16: Massachusetts Travel Instruction Network Meeting. This meeting convenes an informal network of travel trainers, and organizations that would like to develop a travel instruction program are welcome to join.
What are you doing for this Older Driver Safety Awareness Week? Let us know in the comments!