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Most Senior Motorists Haven’t Spoken With Family, Doctors About Their Driving Abilities

BY DANIEL GAITAN | daniel@lifemattersmedia.org

The vast majority of aging motorists haven’t spoken with family members or physicians about their driving abilities, according to a troubling report from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

The AAA study, conducted with the Longitudinal Research on Aging Drivers project (LongROAD), found 83 percent of drivers aged 65 to 79 haven’t had meaningful discussions about their driving abilities.

The report is based off conversations with families about safe driving as reported by 2,990 senior drivers in five states, along with the reasons for the discussions.

Only 17 percent of respondents said they had spoken with a family member or doctor at some point in the past about their driving safety, and just 2 percent of the drivers said someone had, in the past year, suggested they limit their driving.

The majority (60 percent) of such conversations were initiated by family members, and they were commonly triggered by a driving safety concern (44 percent), according to the report.

“With seniors outliving their ability to drive safely by an average of seven to 10 years, families should not wait to talk about safety,” said AAA spokeswoman Tamra Johnson in a media release. “AAA urges seniors to begin planning for “driving retirement” at the same time they begin planning for retirement from work.”

In 2016, more than 200,000 drivers ages 65 and older were injured in traffic crashes, and more than 3,500 were killed, according to AAA.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that 18 percent of all traffic fatalities in 2016 involved people 65 and older.

“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 Jake Nelson, AAA director of traffic safety advocacy and research, in the release. “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.”