VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WVEC) — Nearly 83 percent of older drivers report never speaking to family members about their driving ability, according to new research from AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
Of the small percentage of drivers that do have the conversation, 15 percent do so after a crash or traffic infraction. Older drivers are usually at greater risk of death and injury if involved in a crash. The study determined most families and physicians wait too long to start the conversation with older drivers about their safe driving ability.
In 2016, more than 200,000 drivers, ages 65 and older, were injured in a traffic crash, and more than 3,500 were killed.
According to the report, seniors are outliving their ability to drive safely by an average of seven to ten years. AAA urges seniors to begin planning for 'driving retirement' at the same time they start planning for actual retirement.
“The right time to stop driving varies for everyone,” said Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation of Traffic Safety. “This research shows that older drivers can be hesitant to initiate conversations about their driving capabilities, so it is important that families encourage them to talk early and often about their future behind the wheel. With early discussion and proper planning, elderly drivers may extend their time on the road.”
Researchers found that only 17 percent of older drivers report ever speaking with a family member or physician about driving safety. AAA recommends that families start talking with older adults about safe driving early and avoid waiting until there are "red flags" like crashes, scrapes on the car, new medical diagnoses, or worsening health conditions.
“The best time to initiate a discussion with a loved one about staying mobile without a set of car keys is before you suspect there is a problem,” said Georjeane Blumling, Vice President of Public Affairs for AAA Tidewater Virginia. “Planning for personal mobility and independence should be done working shoulder to shoulder with the older driver. Talking sooner, rather than later, can help set mutual expectations and reduce safety issues or emotional reactions down the line.”
For more information on AAA resources for older drivers, click here.