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Keeping Older Drivers Safe

Keeping Older Drivers Safe

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BEHAVIORS LIKE PARKING TOO FAR FROM THE CURB, having trouble changing lanes, having minor accidents,
getting lost on familiar routes, or improperly leaving or entering expressways may be early signs that an older adult is
unsafe to drive. The following tips were shared by occupational therapy practitioners for friends and family members to
help older drivers remain safely on the road for as long as possible, and to maintain their independence if driving is no
longer an option.
BEHAVIORS LIKE PARKING TOO FAR FROM THE CURB, having trouble changing lanes, having minor accidents,
getting lost on familiar routes, or improperly leaving or entering expressways may be early signs that an older adult is
unsafe to drive. The following tips were shared by occupational therapy practitioners for friends and family members to
help older drivers remain safely on the road for as long as possible, and to maintain their independence if driving is no
longer an option.

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09/07/2012

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If youwant to:
TIPS
KEEPING OLDER DRIVERS SAFE
BEHAVIORS LIKE PARKING TOO FAR FROM THE CURB,having trouble changing lanes, having minor accidents,getting lost on amiliar routes, or improperly leaving or entering expressways may be early signs that an older adult isunsae to drive. The ollowing tips were shared by occupational therapy practitioners or riends and amily members tohelp older drivers remain saely on the road or as long as possible, and to maintain their independence i driving is nolonger an option.
Consider theseactivity tips:
•Framethediscussionsoitishelpfulratherthanthreat
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ening,byemphasizingexistingskillsandconsideringoptionsateverystage.•Provideindividualizedsuggestions,suchasdrivingonly familiarroutes,duringdaylight,andonsidestreets.•ContributetoCarFitevents,whicharefreetothepublicandfocusonlyonthetofthepersontothevehicle—notonwhetherthepersonissafetodrive.•Assistwithdevelopinga“transportationplan.”Justasweplanforhousingandnancesasweage,weneedtoconsidertransportationoptionstoensurecontinuedaccesstoourcommunityasdriversand/orpassengers.
An occupational therapypractitioner offers expertise to:
 Approachthetopicofsafedriving.•Rememberthatthegoalistopreservethedignity,independence,andsafetyoftheperson,nottostopthepersonfromdriving.•Identifyspecicunsafedrivingbehaviors,focusingonfacts(e.g.,“Ihavenoticedthatyoudon’tlookwhenbackingup”)notgeneralconcerns(e.g.,“Idon’tliketheideaofyoustilldriving”).Neverhavedrivingdiscussionsinthecar.•Askthepersontohaveaphysicalexamtodeter 
-
minewhetherchangesarerelatedtomedication,nutrition,illness,injury,ortheagingprocess.•SuggestthatthepersonattendaCarFitEvent,duringwhichexpertswillsuggestwaystoperson
-
alizetheperson’svehicletobethebesttforvis
-
ibility,comfort,andsafety(seewww.Car-Fit.org).
For Living LifeTo Its Fullest
•Providea“medicallyatriskdriverscreening”oracomprehensivedrivingevaluation,whichreviewsallaspectsoftheperson’sdriving.Thegoalofthisevaluationisnottoprovewhetherthedriverissafeorunsafe,buttoaddressareasofconcerntokeepthepersondrivingsafelyforaslongaspossible.•Exploresafesolutions,asindicated,thatincludevehicleadaptationsandequipmentspecictotheperson’sneeds,suchasbroadermirrors,seatboosters,handcontrols,locationandnavigationtechnologysuchasOn-StarorGPS,mobilitydevicestowageequipment,etc.Takeactionifthe factssuggestthatthepersonisunsafetodrive.•Askthepersontoundergoadrivingevaluationbyanoccupationaltherapist.•Offeralternativeformsoftransportationuntilanevaluationcanbeconducted.Donotletanunsafedriverremainontheroad.•Checklocalandstateregulations.Manystatesrequiremorefrequentchecksofvisionanddrivingskillsforolderdrivers.Othersrequirenoticationandtestingwhenanindividualwishestoresumedrivingafterastrokeorotherseriousillness.
Image courtesy of graur razvan ionut / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
 
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