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A Refresher Course For Older Drivers


Jan. 9, 2003

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

For more information, contact:
Rosalie Thornburgh or Pati Pomeroy
KDOT Bureau of Traffic Safety: (785) 296-3756

Older citizens are experienced and generally conscientious drivers. However, it’s also a fact that as we age, our reaction times slow, our senses of vision and hearing can deterioriate and we have less flexibility and a more limited range of motion. In addition, many seniors are required to take medication that can adversely affect driving skills.

The physical changes that come with age make senior citizens more likely than other age groups to be involved in automobile crashes. In 2001, more than 300,000 Kansas drivers over the age of 65 were involved in 9,989 crashes, resulting in 4,218 injuries and 107 deaths. The accident rate of drivers 65 and older, in terms of miles traveled, is exceeded only by drivers under the age of 24.

Older drivers may experience problems at intersections when it is difficult to gauge the speed of approaching vehicles, when trying to accelerate onto roadways and quickly adjust to the speed of other traffic, or when making safe turns into the closest driving lane.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the 70-plus age group made up 9.1 percent of the U.S. population but accounted for 13 percent of all traffic fatalities and 12 percent of vehicle occupant fatalities in 2000.

Other drivers should be sympathetic and understanding of the conditions that can affect a senior citizen’s driving ability, and they should exercise patience when they encounter older drivers on the road.

Older drivers can reduce their chances of being involved in traffic crashes by following these tips:

  • Be aware of the rules of the road and follow them.
  • If you’ve been involved in near-collisions, consider taking a driving course. Several organizations, including the AARP, offer inexpensive defensive driving courses for senior citizens.
  • Allow plenty of time to get to your destination. Drivers who are rushed tend to make more mistakes.
  • To compensate for slower reflexes, leave plenty of room between you and the car ahead of you.
  • Try to avoid driving in bad weather, in rush hour, or on poorly-lit roadways
  • Try not to drive too slowly. It's actually unsafe, as you can obstruct traffic behind you.
  • Talk with your physician about the possible impact medications could have on your driving.

For more information about safe driving practices contact the KDOT Bureau of Traffic Safety at (785) 296-3756, or information can be obtained on the Internet by clicking on the green SAFETY button on the KDOT website, at www.ksdot.org.

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KDOT is a member of the Governor’s Substance Abuse Prevention Council united in the vision that Kansas communities become places where all children are safe, protected, nurtured, and supported in reaching their fullest potential.