Facts & Figures
Baby Boomer Drivers Will Increase the Number of Senior Drivers
By 2030, more than 40 million aging baby boomers will be flooding American's streets and highways as senior drivers. For some people, this is a scary thought because senior citizens and teenagers have the highest rate of auto accidents in the United States. For others, it is merely something to plan for, including baby boomers whose auto insurance premiums may increase when they become senior drivers. And that is exactly what many organizations and states are doing by developing driver safety programs, car accessories and new laws to help improve senior driver's overall driving performance. Some of these new baby boomer driving programs and enhancements include:
Driver Safety Classes
A refresher course for drivers age 50 and older, the AARP Driver Safety Class is designed to help seniors tune up their driving skills, update their knowledge, reduce traffic violations, learn about age-related physical challenges and most importantly, how to be a safe driver. In addition to helping seniors become better drivers, the AARP course can also help graduates of the course earn a multi-year discount on their auto insurance.
AAA Roadwise Review
To help keep senior drivers safe, AAA has developed an interactive CD-ROM called Roadwise Review, which seniors can review in the comfort of their own home. The CD covers the eight physical and mental abilities shown to be the strongest predictors of crash risk among older drives, such as:
- Leg Strength and General Mobility - necessary to control acceleration and braking.
- Head/Neck Flexibility - essential in checking blind spots, lane changes or merging.
- High Contrast Visual Acuity - needed to identify pavement markings, as well as detect many types of hazards in or near the road.
- Low Visual Acuity - vital for driving in low visibility conditions such as dusk, rain or fog.
- Working Memory - important in following directions, remembering traffic rules and regulations, and using information on highway guide signs.
- Visualization of Missing Information - helps a driver recognize hazards even when seeing only part of the picture.
- Visual Search - safe driving requires the ability to quickly find and recognize traffic signs and landmarks.
- Useful Field of View - ensures drivers can pay attention to what is happening right in front of them, while also noticing safety threats at the edge of their field of view.
Developed by the American Society on Aging, AARP, The American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc. and AAA, CarFit is a 12-point checklist program created for senior drivers to evaluate how well their cars are fitting their physical and mental needs. During a CarFit session, seniors meet with a trained professional who reviews some questions with them and checks their vehicle for proper fit and usability. The process only takes about 15 minutes and concludes with a list of recommended car adjustments and adaptations seniors can make to their vehicle.
Due to rising health care costs, seniors may not have the resources to buy a new, senior friendly car. However, there are items aging baby boomers can purchase to help make driving easier, such as seat cushions to elevate drivers to the appropriate eye level, pedal extensions to help drivers maintain the 10 inches between the driver and the steering wheel and corrective mirrors that help eliminate blind spots and compensate for decreased mobility in the neck - a common problem in many senior drivers.
Renewing Driver's Licenses
Many states have laws in place that mandate senior drivers take a special written and vision test before they can renew their driver's licenses. Think this is cutting into aging drivers' independence and freedom? Thing again! According to the Journal of the American Medial Association, states that required people to renew their drivers' licenses in person have 17% fewer crashes among drivers older than 85, than states without such rules.
Together with a variety of automotive manufacturers, the AgeLab at M.I.T. has been conducting research and tests on various vehicles to try and develop a car that will help prolong and promote safe driving among older adults. One of the cars the AgeLab has developed is the "Driving Miss Daisy" smart car. This VW Beetle is equipped with driving simulators and bumper-mounted sensors that use radar to activate collision-warning and emergency-alert systems. The collision-warning system helps gauge the speed of on-coming traffic and the emergency-alert system beeps when the car starts to drift out of its lane. If ever developed into mainstream, this could potentially improve the driving performance of senior drivers.
Reevaluate Your Auto Insurance
Often, seniors continue to pay for auto insurance they no longer need. That is why it is a good idea for seasoned drivers to reevaluate their auto insurance policy once they have retired or have reduced the amount of miles they actually drive in a day. To help, Insurance.com offers an auto insurance comparison application that allows seniors to view multiple rates from best-in class insurance provides. Not only will the comparison module help you save time, it will also save you money on your auto insurance rate.
Worried About an Elderly Driver?
Many times seniors still drive because they do not want to burden family members with the task of driving them around from place to place - even though they themselves might be questioning their own driving ability. Consider offering to drive your family member to and from errands or doctors appointments, they will appreciate the offer and company.
If your family member lives far away, check with local transportation services in their area to see if there is a pick-up drop-off service that can drive them to their destination. While you may not be able to be there, at least you will know they are in safe hands.