Every day in America, roughly 10,000 people turn age 65. To help keep roadways safe as America grays and to help preserve the freedom of mobility of older drivers, researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine are training law enforcement officers to recognize warning signs of impaired driving skills and to take appropriate, compassionate action. They are also training doctors to think more about their patients’ ability to drive safely with age.
A recent article in the Claims Journal, titled “Police, Doctors Receive Elder Driver Assessment Training,” describes an educational program called Training, Research and Education for Driving Safety (TREDS). The program is designed to reduce the number of fatalities involving older drivers and to extend the time seniors can drive safely.
The program’s focus is to educate people about the effects of aging on driving skills and the need to assess older people for driving impairments. TREDS teaches physicians about conditions and medications that can impact a person’s ability to drive safely, regardless of age.
TREDS would like to see doctors assessing their patients for age-related driving impairments. These can include problems with their vision, mobility, and dementia. The program will give these patients information on necessary medications that have fewer driving-related side effects.
Auto accidents rank second in causes of injury-related deaths in people age 65 and older. The original article estimates that one in five drivers in the U.S. will be age 65 or older by 2030. That’s twice the number of seniors in 2010—roughly 70 million in 2030.
Although some seniors can drive safely into their eighties and beyond, a person’s crash rate per mile driven starts to increase when they reach age 70. By their 80s, senior men are as dangerous behind the wheel (in terms of driving fatalities per mile driven) as teenage males.
For more information, contact an experienced elder law attorney.
Reference: Claims Journal (November 7, 2014) “Police, Doctors Receive Elder Driver Assessment Training”