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Safety and the Aging Driver

Almost 30 per cent of Canada's population was over 50 in 2002. Half of Canadians 65 and older living in a private household drive a motor vehicle. Drivers over 80 are the fastest-growing segment of the driving population.

What are the implications of Canada's changing driver demographics?

"Being able to drive means independence," says Emile Therien, president of the Canada Safety Council. "If you've driven for most of your life, you'll want to keep driving as long as possible." He says mature drivers tend to be safety conscious, "Many compensate for their limitations by driving shorter distances and avoiding night driving, busy highways and downtown areas."

Most drivers over 65 use their car only a few times a week, mostly short trips for shopping, appointments or social get-togethers. However, at the onset of winter, some drive long distances to warmer climes.

Over the years, road fatalities have dropped significantly in all age groups except 65 and over. Based on kilometres driven, older drivers have more collisions than any other age group.

Can seniors be safe drivers? Definitely yes, says Therien, if they recognize age-related changes and compensate for them.

Age-related changes include: reduced vision, particularly at night; a decrease in depth perception; and movement-limiting disabilities such as arthritis and rheumatism which slow down response. Medications enable Canadians to enjoy longer and better lives, but can also affect driving ability.

The main factors in collisions involving older drivers are slow response, not seeing a pedestrian (car, sign, etc.) and interaction with other drivers, such as right-of-way violations.

Refresh your Driving Skills

Even if you haven't been involved in a collision in 40 years, how many near misses have you experienced? It may be time to review your driving skills. With aging, changes occur in hearing, vision, flexibility and reaction time. You can learn to adjust your skills to compensate for those changes.

The 55 Alive Driver Refresher Course is designed to help older drivers maintain their independence and their driving privileges. Contact the Canada Safety Council to find out where it is available near you.

The Canada Safety Council was co-sponsor of a workshop on maturing drivers held October 15-16, 1999 in Ottawa. Speakers addressed topics related to health, mobility and road safety. The purpose was to examine how provincial and territorial governments should address Canada's aging driver population.

55 Alive Driver Refresher Course
Renew Your Driving Skills for Today's Traffic

"I've been driving for a long time. Why should I take a driving course now?"

To update your driving skills. Even if you haven't been involved in a collision in 40 years, it may be time to review your driving skills. With aging, changes occur in hearing, vision, flexibility and reaction time. You can learn to adjust your skills to compensate for those changes.

Do Any Of These Situations Bother You?

  • Entering or exiting a highway
  • Changing lanes on the highway
  • Passing
  • Parking
  • Left Turns
  • Yielding the right of way
  • Night driving
  • Winter driving
  • The frustrations of today's complicated traffic environment
  • If so, you will benefit from taking the 55 Alive Driver Refresher Course.

Sharpen Your Driving Skills

The 55 Alive Driver Refresher Course is designed to help Canadians 55 years and over to maintain their independence and their driving privileges. The 55 Alive course is designed to help you...

  • Gain more confidence behind the wheel
  • Improve your awareness of traffic hazards
  • Update yourself on traffic laws and new technology
  • Anticipate the actions of other drivers
  • Identify and correct bad driving habits
  • Voice your concerns in a friendly, relaxed environment

"Driving helps me keep my independence - 55 Alive helps me protect it."

 

http://www.safety-council.org

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