Keeping Seniors in the Driver’s Seat
CarFit appointments available for driver safety check
May 13, 2019 – Seniors represent the fastest-growing segment of drivers, with current projections suggesting that a quarter of all drivers will be over the age of 65 by 2025. They are the most fragile drivers on the road, resulting in a higher death rate per mile driven than any other group.
To keep senior drivers driving as long as safely possible, AAA South Dakota is hosting a CarFit event:
- Thursday, May 16th from 1p – 3p at Active Generations (north parking lot) at 2300 W 46th St, in Sioux Falls
This free, 15-minute check and can be made by calling (605) 221-1624. CarFit technicians trained by AAA provide a quick, yet comprehensive 12-point check of how well the senior driver’s car “fits” them. Technicians will check:
- steering wheel tilt/position
- distance the driver sits from the steering wheel
- line of sight above the steering wheel
- position of driver to gas/brake pedal
- help adjust mirror settings to eliminate blind spots.
CarFit also provides valuable information to seniors that have difficulty:
- Reaching the shoulder harness and buckling/unbuckling the seat belt
- Getting into and out of a vehicle easily
- Turning their head to look over their shoulder while changing lanes
- Sitting comfortably, without knee, back, hip, neck or shoulder stiffness or pain
Senior Driver Statistics
- Seniors aged 65 and over are more than twice as likely as younger drivers to be killed when involved in a crash.
- In 2017, more than 8,000 senior drivers (aged 66 or older) were injured in crashes. These crashes also injured 2,200 senior passengers.
New research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety finds that increased fatigue and poor physical functioning are leading factors that can result in older adults limiting their driving. But simple steps, like weekly exercise and stretching, can improve safe driving abilities and keep older adults on the road longer.
The AAA Foundation commissioned researchers at Columbia University to evaluate eight domains- depression, anxiety, fatigue, sleep disturbance, pain interference, physical functioning, pain intensity and participation in social activities - to determine how changes in physical, mental and social health affect driving mobility for older adults. The report found that fatigue and poor physical functioning are most common among older drivers who spend less time behind the wheel.
“Older adults who give up the keys are more likely to suffer from depression than those who remain behind the wheel,” said Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “It is important that we find ways to keep older drivers in good physical health in order to extend their mobility.”
Research shows that daily exercise and stretching can help older drivers to improve overall body flexibility and move more freely to observe the road from all angles. Physical strength also helps drivers remain alert to potential hazards on the road and perform essential driving functions, like:
- Looking to the side and rear
- Adjusting the safety belts
- Sitting for long periods of time
“Some decline in physical fitness is inevitable as we age,” said Jake Nelson, AAA director of traffic safety advocacy and research. “But, research shows that exercise doesn’t have to be strenuous to produce positive results. You can spread out the time you spend being physically active over the course of your day and week. A few minutes at a time can be sufficient. Simple steps to keep active can keep you driving safely for longer.”
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends older adults, who are physically able, get between 2.5 to 5 hours of moderate-intensity exercise each week or between 75 minutes to 2.5 hours of high-intensity physical activity. The exercises should include balance training as well as aerobic and muscle strengthening activities. Older adults should consult their doctor before beginning a new exercise regimen. They should also talk with a healthcare provider about ways to combat fatigue. Prioritizing getting at least seven hours of sleep each night can help older adults stay alert behind the wheel.
AAA recommends a series of stretches to improve neck, shoulder, trunk, back and overall body flexibility. As a leading advocate for senior driver safety, AAA also offers a variety of programs and resources to help older adults improve their driving performance and avoid crashes. 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.com.
About LongROAD: 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) study is one of the largest and most comprehensive databases available on senior drivers incorporating 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.
For more information, visit SeniorDriving.AAA.com
About AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety: Established in 1947 by AAA, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a not-for-profit, publicly funded, 501(c)(3) charitable research and educational organization. The AAA Foundation’s mission is to prevent traffic deaths and injuries by conducting research into their causes and by educating the public about strategies to prevent crashes and reduce injuries when they do occur. This research is used to develop educational materials for drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists and other road users. Visit www.AAAFoundation.org.