People are living longer. Consequently, they are driving longer. AARP is quick to point out that ability, not age, determines safety behind the wheel. However, statistics tell us that drivers 75 and older have higher fatality rates per miles driven than drivers in their mid-60s.
That’s because older drivers are less likely to survive the physical trauma of a car accident. News headlines would have us believe that elderly drivers are a menace to everyone on the road. Truth is, older drivers are more of a danger to themselves than to other drivers, pedestrians, or bikers.
Despite the risk, most seniors are reluctant to move out of the driver’s seat. If they live on their own, they often view the car as essential to maintaining their independence. With a car at their disposal they are free to come and go as they please. More important, they have the means to maintain their ever-smaller circle of social connections.
There are ways to help seniors kick the car habit. The key is to find transportation alternatives that are a good fit with their existing schedule. Churches often provide their older members with transportation to and from services. And some senior centers are easily accessible using public transportation.
Getting out and about can be a big part of a senior’s life. So keeping them on the road, even after the car is parked, is important for maintaining their physical and mental well-being.
Life is a journey; let’s keep it safe.