National Older Driver Safety Awareness Week Underway
December 9, 2021
By Jessica Mathews / email@example.com
It’s National Older Driver Safety Awareness Week and Livingston County residents and others are being encouraged to take the opportunity to learn more about various topics related to aging and driving – which can be a tough transition.
The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments or SEMCOG is highlighting various resources and information to help aging drivers remain mobile and independent – including the state’s Safe Driver Smart Options website. It features resources for active older drivers, as well as those who might be considering limiting their driving and finding other transportation choices.
A large portion of the regional population is facing decisions about adjusting lifelong mobility habits according to SEMCOG, which says it’s important to have what can be difficult but necessary conversations for the aging population. Aging drivers, their families and professionals who care for them are encouraged to explore different topics throughout the awareness week – such as interventions that can empower drivers, how to stay engaged in the community with or without a car, anticipating changes that can affect driving, and family conversations.
SEMCOG’s Regional Forecast projects that the number of people age 65 and older will grow substantially - by 67% - from 2015 to 2045.
SEMCOG Communications Manager Trevor Layton says for aging drivers and their family members, it’s never too soon to start planning for a smooth transition. He says there’s a lot of great information not just about conversations and different mobility options. Layton noted that roads have changed a lot since many people first got their licenses and there are now roundabouts and interactions with bicycles and bike lanes on roads, and night driving is also an issue for some people.
Despite a recent decrease likely due to the pandemic, long-term demographic trends show that crashes involving older drivers are likely to grow. In 2019, there were over 24,000 crashes involving older drivers - a number Layton said had been steadily trending upwards but 2020 was a unique year and the pandemic affected driving patterns everywhere.
Layton pointed to one of the things happening across the region and other places all over the country. He says older generations, who are a huge part of the population and affectionately referred to as baby boomers, have been driving for decades but now a lot of them are now reaching or getting close to ages where mobility is becoming a challenge.
Layton said the conversations are not always easy to have but an important thing to consider is that they are less charged and less tense the earlier people have them, which takes some of the emotion out of it to help keep people safe. There are a lot of different factors to consider but with the holiday season here and family and friends gathering, Layton says it could also be a good time to start initiating conversations with loved ones. He noted that the Area Agency on Aging also offers a lot of great resources.
More information is available in the provided link to the SEMCOG release and at www.michigan.gov/AgingDriver.