Older Driver Safety Awareness Week aims to keep seniors safe on the road
77 older drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2019
STATEWIDE — The Colorado Department of Transportation is joining with local programs to observe Older Driver Safety Awareness Week from Dec. 7 to Dec. 11 2020. By proclamation, Governor Polis has designated the week to promote understanding of the importance of mobility and transportation for older adults and to ensure they can remain active in their communities without transportation becoming a barrier to their mobility.
It is critical to note that older adults are advised to follow COVID-19 safety guidelines when considering travel options. Individuals who are 65 years and older are at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19. Older adults are twice as likely as younger people to develop serious symptoms. More information is available at https://covid19.colorado.gov/resources-for-older-adults-and-their-families.
In 2019 there were 122 drivers over 65 years old involved in fatal crashes. In that same year 77 older drivers died in car crashes. Older drivers are more likely to be killed or seriously injured in a crash due to the greater fragility of their aging bodies.
Research suggests that older adults can expect to outlive their ability to drive safely by seven to ten years.
A proactive way for older adults to enhance their safety behind the wheel is to be sure their car is properly adjusted. In 2019 CDOT sponsored 57 CarFit events around the state. At these events volunteers check for:
- A seat belt that holds the driver in the proper position and remains comfortable while driving.
- The tilt of the steering wheel and position of the airbag.
- Plenty of room (at least 10 inches) between the chest and the airbag
- A properly adjusted head restraint.
- A clear line of sight above the steering wheel and dash.
- Easy access to gas and brake pedals.
- Properly adjusted mirrors.
- Ability to see around the vehicle by reducing the driver’s blind spots.
- The ability to turn the vehicle’s ignition key with ease or operate an ignition system.
- Easy operation of vehicle controls including turn signals, headlights, emergency flashers, windshield wipers, and the parking brake, among others.
Due to COVID-19, the CarFit program is hosting a series of Virtual Workshops to provide an in-depth look at several key aspects involved in getting a proper fit in your vehicle. Learn about what to look for when it comes to fit, the everyday household objects you can use to measure and make adjustments, and how this may keep you safer on the road. Seniors can register for a virtual workshop at www.car-fit.org.
“With increasing age come changes in physical, mental and sensory abilities that can challenge a person’s continued ability to drive safely,” said Sylvia Cordy, a traffic safety advocate with the Denver-based Reaching Older Adult Drivers program. “But there are a variety of safe travel options and focusing on these solutions is key.”
Colorado’s Guide for Aging Drivers and Their Families is available for free and can serve as an excellent resource to answer most questions including license reexamination and laws, resources for Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialists, Area Agency on Aging centers, and more. The guide can be downloaded at: www.drivesmartcolorado.com.
In Western Colorado, a good resource is olderwiser.org for information on public transit discounts.
WHOLE SYSTEM. WHOLE SAFETY.
In early 2019, CDOT announced its Whole System—Whole Safety initiative to heighten safety awareness. This initiative takes a systematic, statewide approach to safety combining the benefits of CDOT’s programs that address driving behaviors, our built environment and the organization’s operations. The goal is to improve the safety of Colorado’s transportation network by reducing the rate and severity of crashes and improving the safety of all transportation modes. The program has one simple mission — to get everyone home safely.