Just as people plan for retirement, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) urges them to plan for changing needs and abilities in their driving as they age. The CHP joins the American Occupational Therapy Association to recognize Dec. 5 through 9 as Older Driver Safety Awareness Week.
The ability to drive safely can be affected by physical, emotional, and mental conditions. If family and friends discuss potential changes before they become an issue, older drivers can be involved in the planning. Proactive, early planning is essential for continued independence and safety on the road.
“As we age, most people want to maintain their independence, and that usually means driving,” CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow said. “Discussing how long it is safe to continue driving may be difficult for family and friends, but it is important.”
Drivers aged 65 and older made up about 15 percent of the licensed drivers in California in 2014. Data from the CHP’s Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System show seniors were involved in 10 percent of the fatal collisions and 8.5 percent of the injury collisions in the state. Of the 4,299 fatal collisions recorded in California in 2014, slightly more than 10 percent, or 444, involved drivers age 65 and older.
The CHP encourages drivers to consider their transportation options as they age. Ride-sharing and ride-hailing services present more alternatives than ever before for people who no longer drive.
As part of the CHP’s efforts to help California’s seniors drive safely for as long as they can, the CHP offers a two-hour Age Well, Drive Smart course. Through this program, seniors can tune up their driving skills, refresh their knowledge of the rules of the road, and learn how to adjust to normal age-related physical and mental changes. Information about the free classes is available from Area CHP offices or at www.chp.ca.gov.