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â€œMany people can drive safely through their later years. As a group, older drivers are typically safe drivers. Drivers age 64 and older represent 14 percent of the driving population but just 8 percent of vehicular accidents,â€œ says Maureen Mohyde, director of Corporate Gerontology at The Hartford, and co-author of â€œWe Need to Talk: Family Conversations with Older Drivers.â€
About two-thirds of older drivers self-regulate or voluntarily restrict their driving to avoid night driving, slippery road conditions, rush hour or other difficult driving conditions, she adds.
As a concerned family member, relative or friend, itâ€™s good to be proactive. There are positive things you can do to reduce driving risks and auto fatalities. The first step is to start talking about the subject before it becomes an issue.
You can broach the subject a number of ways. Talk about heavy traffic or road construction. Bring up news reports of an auto accident or announcement of a new senior transportation service. Deteriorating health, new medications or a recent fender-bender clearly mean itâ€™s time to talk.
For help getting started, check out the free 24-page â€œ We Need to Talk: Family Conversations with Older Drivers,â€ produced by The Hartford in cooperation with the MIT Age Lab. The guide and video are available at: http://www.thehartford.com/talkwitholderdrivers/.
Key to any decision-making is drivingÂ frequently enough with your elderly parent, relative, friend or client to know if they should still get behind the wheel. Some problems to watch for include: riding the break, hitting curbs, failure to stop at stop signs, running a red light, getting lost or confusing the gas and break pedals.
Finally, start investigating the options so that you can come to the table with transportation alternatives. Family members, friends, public transportation, taxis, senior services programs, non-profit organizations and churches offer a variety of ways to get around.
Most important of all, when itâ€™s time to stop driving, be sure to let your loved one know they are only giving up their keys, not their lives.