Glen Burnie, MD (December 7, 2020) – Of the more than 4.4 million licensed drivers in Maryland, 850,000 are 65 or older. As we age, there are physical, cognitive and sensory changes that can inhibit a person’s ability to drive. During Older Driver Safety Awareness Week, December 7-11, 2020, the Maryland Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Administration (MDOT MVA) is sharing tips and guidelines to ensure the state’s aging population can remain as safe as possible on the road.
“No matter your age, driving is one of the most complex everyday things we do,” said MDOT MVA Administrator Chrissy Nizer, who also serves as Governor Larry Hogan’s Highway Safety Representative. “We want to ensure our older drivers have the information and resources they need to continue driving for as long as safely possible.”
Older Driver Safety Awareness Week promotes the importance of mobility and transportation options for older adults and emphasizes the importance of recognizing changes in driving abilities and understanding risk factors. Understanding the most common crashes involving older drivers can help avoid high risks situations and conditions. Below are some tips to avoid common crashes:
- Always wear a seat belt and make sure all passengers are belted.
- Judging oncoming traffic can be challenging when making left-hand turns. Allow enough time when crossing traffic and pay attention to signs and signals.
- Use caution when merging onto higher speed roads and when changing lanes.
- Be extra careful at intersections. Use turn signals and stay alert for cars and pedestrians entering from the side.
- Always stay in your lane while driving through an intersection.
- Avoid distractions so you can make safe driving decisions.
- Drive at or near the speed limit. It’s unsafe to drive too fast or too slow.
- Avoid drowsy driving. Drivers become drowsy from exhaustion as well as from changes to medications or certain medical conditions.
Aging can affect driving, but more importantly, health can affect a person’s ability to drive. Impaired vision, physical health, cognitive health and the medications you take, regardless of your age, can have an impact on driving ability.
All drivers should be aware of potential risks and how to manage them, and know where to find helpful resources. Age alone does not make a driver unsafe, and licensing is not determined by diagnoses. When determining driving suitability, MDOT MVA focuses on functional ability, not age or disease, and provides an individual review on fitness to drive.
MDOT MVA produces a Resource Guide for Aging Drivers that provide detailed information and easy-to-use tools for customers to learn more about aging, health, and driving. To download the resource guide, click here. Stay aware of changes on the roadways and potentially in your driving habits, by taking advantage of the many driver refresher courses and self-assessments available.
If you or a loved one begins to recognize the warning signs for diminished driving capacity, have conversations with family, friends and your health care provider. Contact an occupational therapist or a driver rehabilitation specialist to get advice and to learn about other transportation options to stay mobile in the community. MDOT MVA’s Resource Guide for Aging Drivers provides a list of Maryland Driver Rehabilitation Programs.
For more information on Older Driver Safety Week, visit aota.org/Conference-Events/Older-Driver-Safety-Awareness-Week.aspx.