Safety Tips for Older Drivers
EAST LANSING. The Partnership for Family Safety is distributing a new brochure entitled, "How's My Driving? Simple Tips for Maintaining Driving Skills" that provides resources and information to help older drivers stay safely behind the wheel.
"By 2030, one out of every five Americans will be over the age of 65," stated F/Lt. Jim Shaw, Commander, Michigan State Police Prevention Services Section. "Research has shown that even though older drivers travel fewer miles per year they are more prone to being seriously injured or killed in a traffic crash."
Based on the estimated annual miles traveled, the fatality rate for drivers age 65 and older is an astonishing 17 times higher than the rate for drivers 25 to 64 years old.
The good news is that the number and severity of crashes involving older drivers in Michigan is declining. A recently released study of crash data from 1998 to 2002, commissioned by the Office of Highway Safety Planning, found that fatal and serious injury crashes involving drivers age 65 and older decreased by 23 percent during this period. They note, however, that it may be too soon to determine if this downward trend will continue or whether it was a one-time occurrence.
The Partnership for Family Safety wants to increase safe driving among older drivers by helping them to understand that driving is a physical exercise which requires a certain level of strength, flexibility and coordination to do safely.
"As people age, a decline in physical fitness is inevitable, however, studies have shown that exercise can actually slow down the aging process," stated Janice C. Klos, Chief Executive Officer, Michigan Academy of Family Physicians. "Flexibility fitness training can be an effective tool in improving range of motion and increasing levels of fitness among older drivers, resulting in better driving skills."
In addition to flexibility exercises, the "How's My Driving" brochure also contains tips on how to safely cope with a decline in vision, an 11-question self-assessment test and information on safety and mobility features that are available in new cars.
"There are people of every age that are safe, responsible drivers," stated Mr. John Zimmerman, Director of Community Communication, Meijer Corporation. "No one should be expected to give up their driver's license based solely on their age. The goal of this brochure is to help keep older drivers on the road as long as they can safely drive."
Free copies of the "How's My Driving" brochure are available at Meijer Pharmacies and at offices of family physician members of the Michigan Academy of Family Physicians. An electronic version is also available on the Michigan Academy of Family Physicians' web site at www.mafp.com and the Michigan State Police web site at http://www.michigan.gov/documents/ElderlyDriving_0909_84709_7.pdf
The Partnership for Family Safety is a cooperative effort involving the Michigan State Police, Meijer Stores and the Michigan Academy of Family Physicians (MAPF) to provide safety prevention education to Michigan citizens. There are 65 Meijer stores and nearly 3,000 MAFP family doctors across the state.
FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:
F/Lt. Jim Shaw, Michigan State Police, (517) 333-4006
Ms. Janice C. Klos, Michigan Academy of Family Physicians, (800) 833-5151
Mr. John Zimmerman, Meijer Corporation, (616) 791-5267