What to Know
- Majority of senior drivers do not discuss their potential driving limitations with their families or doctors, according to AAA Foundation
- 83 percent of older drivers say they never discussed their driving restrictions with family members or their physicians, the study says
- However, of the small percentage that does, 15 percent have the conversation after they are involved in a crash or receive a traffic ticket
The majority of senior drivers do not discuss their potential driving limitations with their families or doctors, according to a new study.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, a not-for-profit research and education organization, found that 83 percent of older drivers say they never discussed their driving restrictions with family members or their physicians. However, of the small percentage that does, 15 percent have the conversation after they are involved in a crash or receive a traffic ticket, according to the organization.
The study determined that the most commonly cited reasons to discuss driving safety for older drivers includes safety concerns like falling asleep behind the wheel, health issues, driving infraction or crash and planning for the future.
The most recent data by the Federal Highway Administration revealed that in 2016, over 1.1 million New Jersey residents age 65 or older had driver licenses, which was an increase of more than 100,000 from 2012.
The AAA Foundation says that in 2016, over 47,000 drivers age 65 and older were involved in crashes in New Jersey, including over 100 fatal crashes and 10,000 injury crashes.
Because of these numbers, the foundation recommends family members discuss driving limitations before an accident occurs, while noting that everyone is different.
“As more and more seniors hit the road, older driver safety becomes increasingly important,” Robert Sinclair Jr., Manager of Media Relations for AAA Northeast said in a statement, adding that the “proper planning can help extend a senior driver’s time on the road, so it’s important to talk early and often about an aging driver’s future behind the wheel.”
However, the foundation also points out the necessity in understanding the importance of mobility regardless of age, noting that past research found older adults who stopped driving are almost two times more likely to suffer depression and nearly five times as likely to enter a long-term care facility compared to those who drive.
“The best time to initiate a discussion with a loved one about staying mobile without a set of car keys is before you suspect there is a problem,” said Sinclair. “Planning for personal mobility and independence should be done working shoulder-to-shoulder with the older driver. Talking sooner rather than later can help set mutual expectations and reduce safety issues or emotional reactions down the line.”
The foundation’s latest research is part of a five-year Longitudinal Research on Aging Drivers (LongROAD) study, which focuses on driving patterns of the 65 and older population in the United States.
"The results will provide researchers with a better understanding of the risks senior drivers face so effective safety countermeasures may be developed," the foundation says.