FRISCO — The Colorado Department of Transportation is joining with local programs around the state to observe Older Driver Safety Awareness Week through Friday, Dec. 6.
The goal of the program is to help promote understanding regarding the importance of mobility and transportation for older adults and to ensure they can remain active in their communities without transportation becoming a barrier.
“Older adults want to maintain their independence as they are, and their independence is linked to their cars,” Drive Smart Executive Director Colorado Maile Gray said in a news release. “Drivers who use self-management to review their driving skills can retain their independence longer while limiting risks to themselves and others.”
In 2018, there were 129 drivers older than 65 involved in fatal crashes in Colorado. In that same year, 74 older drivers died in car crashes. Because of increased fragility, older drivers are more likely to be killed or seriously injured in a car crash, according to CDOT.
Research suggests that older adults can expect to outlive their ability to dive safety by seven to 10 years, though there are proactive steps that can be taken to enhance safety behind the wheel. This year, CDOT sponsored 57 CarFit events around the state, where volunteers will help older drivers make sure their seat belts are in the proper positions, the chairs and headrests are adjusted properly, the driver has a clear line of sight above the steering wheel and more.
“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.”
There are a number of ways that older individuals can get around their communities without driving, including getting rides from friends and family, and using public transit or ride-share programs.
In Western Colorado, seniors can take advantage of public transit discounts on All Points Transit, Grand Valley Transit and Bustang Outrider. Summit County also offers a free bus service through the Summit Stage. Drivers can visit olderwiser.org for a list of all public transportation services in the state.
Additionally, Colorado’s Guide for Aging Drivers and Their Families can serve as a resource to answer most questions including license reexamination and laws, resources for Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialists, Area Agency on Aging centers and more. Interested parties can download the guide at drivesmartcolorado.com or request a hard copy by emailing [email protected].