SENIOR DRIVING: FINDING A BALANCE BETWEEN INDEPENDENCE AND SAFETY
The number of seniors (Americans aged 65 or older) who drive is on the rise. In fact, from 1999 to 2009, statistics show a 20% increase in senior drivers. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety predicts that this trend will continue; seniors will make up 25% of the drivers on the road by 2025 and there will be at least 60 million senior drivers by 2030.
Although we find these figures encouraging as advocates for maintaining independence as long as possible, other senior driving statistics give us pause. For example, 95% of senior drivers take medications that could impair their driving. Yet, alarmingly, less than 33% of them admit to awareness of the potential impact of their medications. Moreover, fatality rates for older drivers are 17 times higher than those for 25- to 64-year-old drivers due to greater physical fragility.
Despite the real dangers of senior driving illuminated by these numbers, it is possible to address safety concerns while maintaining (or allowing your senior loved one to maintain) control and independence. There are many great resources to help you strike this balance. AAA has created a website with tools to help seniors assess their ability to drive, understand what might impair driving performance, and learn how to drive safer. Locally, there are several driving improvement schools for those who are still able. When the time comes to stop driving, many alternative transportation options are available from the local government, senior living communities, and in-home care providers. Please feel free to contact us for more information on local transportation resources or to attend one of our monthly Truth About Estate Planning workshops to learn more about maintaining control as you age.