Identifying Changes That Can Affect Driving
This week (Dec 3rd – Dec 7th 2012) is older driver safety awareness week. Each day has a different topic of conversation. Monday’s topic is identifying changes that can affect driving. The ability to drive safely can be affected by changes in your physical, emotional, and cognitive health. It is particularly important to be aware of the changes that your body has gone through over the years. Just because you have gotten older, does not mean that you are any worse of a driver. Changes in your prescriptions, pain and stiffness, sleep patterns, and other health conditions can be driving (pun intended) factors on how well you drive. It is extremely important to identify changes in your body that can affect your driving ability.
Here is a list of some simple steps that you can take to help you drive safely:
- Limit the amount of time spent driving at night
- Avoid highways, especially during rush hour
- Drive in familiar areas
- Avoid driving long distances
If you want to stay up to date and help yourself identify some of the changes that can affect driver safety, you can participate in a car “check-up” through a CarFit event. CarFit is a uniform educational program developed by the American Society on Aging in collaboration with AAA, AARP, and AOTA that is offered free of charge in communities across the country. Occupational therapy practitioners and other professionals offer education following a brief, 12-point checklist that reviews the safety features of the older adult’s vehicle, how to correctly use those features, and the driver’s “fit” in the vehicle.
The focus is on ensuring that the car’s features are optimally adjusted for the driver and does not address the driver’s skills. Participants are not deemed “safe or unsafe” during a CarFit event and do not need to fear having their license taken away.
Occupational therapy practitioners address driving as an essential activity of daily living, and they can help older adults maintain their driving safety and community mobility despite age-related changes.
AOTA is kicking off older driver safety week by hosting a virtual live chat at 12pm on Dec 3rd. National driver safety experts will be weighing in on some of the issues involved with older driver safety. You can join the chat here.