If it’s one thing we Americans cherish, it’s our ability to get in our cars and drive. But for nearly half of seniors, according to a new AAA survey, losing their freedom and independence is a big concern, especially when it comes time to relinquish their car keys.
We have reason to be concerned, since some 10,000 people in the United States turn age 65 every day. That doesn’t mean those individuals are ready to remain immobilized on the couch, but it is a fact to contend with.
Diving into the details of the AAA survey, researchers found that nearly 90 percent of those surveyed said that losing their ability to drive would be a serious problem and nearly half said it would be a “serious” problem.
Another statistic that should get our attention is that by the year 2020, just eight short years from now, nearly one in six individuals will be 65 or older – and most will still have their driver’s license.
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Other survey findings
But don’t think that just because you see an older driver on the road that he or she is no longer capable of driving. The AAA, hoping to dispel the myth of seniors as dangerous drivers, points to the survey findings that the majority of senior drivers (80 percent) are avoiding certain types of driving situations. These include, primarily, bad weather (61 percent), driving at night (50 percent), heavy traffic (42 percent), and unfamiliar roads (37 percent).
Other avoidance areas, although less common, reported by survey respondents, included avoiding long trips (32 percent), and avoiding highways or high-speed roads (22 percent).
And women are more likely than men to avoid driving in every one of these situations.
To see the full Senior Driver Survey, click here.
Tackling the challenge of balancing safety and mobility concerns for older adults, whether it’s for our parents or us, it pays to make use of available resources. The AAA has a suite of tools that seniors can use on SeniorDriving.AAA.com. These include getting a driving health check-up, mastering the challenge of nighttime driving, and knowing the license laws in your state.
Another useful resource is Smart Features for Mature Drivers, a guide that helps identify features to assist older drivers with the visual, physical and mental changes that often occur as individuals age. There’s also the AAA Senior Driver Expo that offers a local, hands-on opportunity to check out some of the AAA’s free tools and programs.