During Older Driver Safety Awareness Week (December 5 to 9), the New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA) encourages older drivers and their families to utilize several resources that can help avoid safety risks behind the wheel, including NYSOFA’s guide Are You Concerned about an Older Driver?
NYSOFA Director Greg Olsen said: “There are many factors affecting driver safety for older adults. But age alone is not a predictor of risk. In fact, research shows that older adults, as a group, successfully adjust for age-related changes that otherwise affect safe-driving practices.”
He added: “There are several factors that can lead to unsafe driving conditions for older adults, including medical issues that increase susceptibility to injury, as well as impairment caused by prescription medication. Many resources are available to help individuals adapt to these new realities in their lives or find alternatives to driving, when necessary.”
“Keeping New Yorkers safe on the roads is one of our top priorities,” said Mark J.F. Schroeder, Commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles and Chair of the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee. “Getting older does not mean you have to stop driving, but you do need to be aware of anything that might impact your safety and the safety of others and take action. We are happy to partner with the Office for the Aging to help raise awareness of this important topic.”
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drivers aged 55 and older are involved in fewer crashes than other groups. However, they are also more likely to be killed or injured in traffic crashes due to conditions like fragile bones, prescription medication use, visual impairments, and chronic medical issues that often accompany the aging process.
Caregivers are a vital set of eyes and ears as well as a trusted source for family conversations or interventions that can resolve unsafe driving situations. If you are a caregiver or a concerned family member, please see NYSOFA’s guide Are You Concerned about an Older Driver? It offers background about safety risks, how to assess these risks, conversation starters for helping a loved one accept or cope with changes in their driving status, adaptive vehicle equipment, educational resources, and more.
In 2015, NYSOFA and the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee launched the Safe Driving Tips for Older New Yorkers website to promote older driver safety. The site encourages online and in-person safety training and car safety check programs; provides information to help older drivers understand options for roadway safety; and offers a user-friendly guide about preventing adverse drug interactions that can affect one’s ability to drive.
Offices for the Aging and their community partners are also a resource to help older drivers, including safety assistance or alternative transportation options. To reach local assistance, call the NY Connects helpline at 1-800-342-9871; or use the online directory here.
Throughout Older Driver Safety Awareness Week, the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) also brings attention to a different aspect of older driver safety, including tips on anticipating changes that can affect driving, family conversations, screening and evaluations, and interventions that can empower older drivers and help them remain engaged in their communities.
The Department of Motor Vehicles' Older Driver Resources webpage provides information about driving skills and programs, health tips, license FAQs, vehicle safety tips, and more.
CarFit is an educational program that provides older adults the opportunity to check how well their personal vehicles ‘fit’ them, as well as information and materials on community-specific resources.
About the New York State Office for the Aging
The New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA) continuously works to help the state’s 4.6 million older adults be as independent as possible for as long as possible through advocacy, development and delivery of person-centered, consumer-oriented, and cost-effective policies, programs, and services that support and empower older adults and their families, in partnership with the network of public and private organizations that serve them. Stay connected—visit the NYSOFA Facebook page; follow @NYSAGING on Twitter and NYSAging on Instagram; or visit aging.ny.gov.
About the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee
The Governor's Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC) is comprised of thirteen agencies who have missions related to transportation and safety. The GTSC is chaired by the Commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles and acts as the state's official liaison with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Learn more at https://trafficsafety.ny.gov/.