Information courtesy of the Colorado Department of Transportation
The Colorado Department of Transportation is joining with local programs to observe Older Driver Safety Awareness Week from Dec. 5 to Dec. 9, 2022. Transportation options for adults as they age are important to ensure they can remain active in their communities for a long time.
In Douglas County, the nonprofit, Aging Resources exists to connect people to services, information, and resources that promote aging well and with independence. The organization provides hundreds of rides to older adults each month through the help of community volunteers. Aging Resources of Douglas County is currently recruiting drivers to join its team. Learn more on their website.
In 2020, there were 114 drivers over 65 years old involved in fatal crashes in Colorado, according to CDOT. In that same year, 91 older drivers died in car crashes. Older drivers are more likely to be killed or seriously injured in a crash due to the greater fragility of their aging bodies. Research suggests that older adults can expect to outlive their ability to drive safely by seven to 10 years.
CDOT’s Highway Safety Office addresses older driver crash prevention through education, public awareness, and partnerships with state and local agencies. CDOT supports law enforcement training and provides information to seniors on alternative ride programs. CDOT also helps older adults who drive stay safe behind the wheel. This includes sponsoring CarFit events around the state. At these events volunteers check for:
- A seat belt that holds the driver in the proper position and remains comfortable while driving.
- The tilt of the steering wheel and position of the airbag.
- Plenty of room (at least 10 inches) between the chest and the airbag
- A properly adjusted head restraint.
- A clear line of sight above the steering wheel and dash.
- Easy access to gas and brake pedals.
- Properly adjusted mirrors.
- Ability to see around the vehicle by reducing the driver’s blind spots.
- The ability to turn the vehicle’s ignition key with ease or operate an ignition system.
- Easy operation of vehicle controls including turn signals, headlights, emergency flashers, windshield wipers and the parking brake, among others.
“Getting older doesn’t mean it’s time to hang up the keys, but it is a time to reflect on how age affects one’s ability to drive,” said CDOT’s Office of Transportation Safety Director Darrell Lingk. “Taking proactive steps to stay safe as you age is important. And with so many transportation alternatives, it has never been easier to find other ways to get around.”
While some drivers can safely drive into their nineties, for others, medical conditions, problems with eyesight, sleep, tremors or memory can make driving more difficult and dangerous.
Colorado’s Guide for Aging Drivers and Their Families is available for free and can serve as an excellent resource to answer most questions including license reexamination and laws, resources for Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialists, Area Agency on Aging centers, and more. The guide is available through Health Promotion Partners and can be downloaded at healthpromotionpartners.com/aging-drivers-guide.
The organization also offers driver safety evaluations, which can be requested by a family or an individual driver to determine the effect of age-related changes on driving fitness. More information about the program can be found at healthpromotionpartners.com/programs.