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
- 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.
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.