CDC: 9 recommendations for safe senior driving

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(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

The risk of an older driver being injured or killed in a motor vehicle accident increases with age, but senior living community residents and other older adults can take several steps to reduce the likelihood, according to a new Vital Signs report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Per mile traveled, fatal crash rates increase noticeably starting at ages 70‒74 and are highest among drivers age 85 and older,” according to the report. “This is largely due to increased susceptibility to injury and medical complications among older drivers rather than an increased tendency to get into crashes.”

Age-related declines in vision or cognitive functioning, as well as physical changes, may affect driving ability, the agency said. The good news, according to the CDC, is that drivers aged more than 65 years are more likely than other drivers to use seat belts, drive when conditions are the safest, and not drink and drive.

More than 5,560 older adults were killed and more than 214,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes in 2012, the CDC said. Men were much more likely to be killed than were women.

Here are nine tips from the CDC that you can share with residents to help them stay safe on the road:

  • Exercise regularly to increase strength and flexibility.
  • Ask a doctor or pharmacist to review prescription and over-the counter medication to reduce side effects and interactions.
  • Have eyes checked by an eye doctor at least once a year. Wear glasses and corrective lenses as required.
  • Drive during daylight and in good weather.
  • Find the safest route, with well-lighted streets, intersections with left turn arrows and easy parking.
  • Plan the driving route before departing.
  • Leave a large following distance behind the car ahead.
  • Avoid distractions while driving, such as listening to a loud radio, talking on a cell phone, texting or eating.
  • Consider potential alternatives to driving, such as riding with a family member or friend or using public transportation.

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