When it comes to older adults driving, there is a passionate divide. Many people advocate strongly for the older crowd continuing to drive, while others are staunch supporters of restricting driving privileges for senior drivers.
Who is right in this ongoing argument? It’s tough to say, since it is impossible to generalize an entire population. Surely many older drivers are more capable of driving safely than many twenty-somethings who are distracted by phones and afflicted by a lead foot; on the other hand, you may know someone in your own life who is no longer able to consistently drive safely. How do we keep our extra-experienced drivers safe on the road? One organization may have the key.
A New Approach to Keeping Older Drivers Safe: Focus on the Car
Many older drivers get new cars and suddenly seem overwhelmed behind the wheel. Does this mean they can no longer drive? Probably not. Think back to when you got a new phone or computer—did it take you a while to acclimate? Finding certain functions and programs may have been a challenge after being accustomed to your old system, and for mature drivers with new cars, the feeling is similar.
One program aims to fit cars to their senior drivers, and the idea is a good one. CarFit hosts events for older drivers to ensure that their cars are custom-fit to their needs, with coordinators on hand to adjust seats, mirrors, pedals, and steering wheel heights for drivers, as well as walking individuals through the inner workings of their car so they feel comfortable and familiar. Event staff (which includes safety professionals and health professionals) will also do a walk-around of the car with each driver to identify any unexplained dents and dings—if drivers are unsure of how damage occurred, staff will suggest that the driver sees a doctor.
Speak With the Older Drivers in Your Life Today
Programs like CarFit exist to help older drivers be as safe as possible in their vehicles, and there’s a good reason. Driving allows many seniors to remain independent and social, and many are very capable of continuing to do so for years to come. In fact, many seniors are much safer drivers than other demographics, since most wear their seatbelts, follow speed limits, and typically do not drink and drive.
This summer, take some time to speak with the older drivers in your life to ensure that they are comfortable in their car and on the road. You can address any issues they have with their vehicle, and help them regularly evaluate their driving abilities. Your efforts will be much appreciated, and you can feel better knowing that you are keeping your older family members safe behind the wheel.