Older Driver Safety Awareness Week hopes to keep seniors safe while traveling

Older drivers are more likely to die in a car accident because of their fragility. (Source:...
Older drivers are more likely to die in a car accident because of their fragility. (Source: KAIT-TV)
Published: Dec. 5, 2022 at 12:52 PM MST
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - The Colorado Department of Transportation is joining with local programs to prevent accidents with older drivers during Older Driver Safety Awareness Week.

The week lasts from Dec. 5 to Dec. 9, 2022.

In 2020, there were 114 drivers involved in fatal crashes in Colorado over the age of 65. In the same year, there were 91 older drivers killed in Colorado.

Older drivers are more likely to be killed or seriously injured during a crash due to greater fragility in their aging bodies. Research suggests that older adults can expect to outlive their ability to drive safely by seven to ten years.

CDOT’s Highway Safety Office addresses older driver crash prevention through education, public awareness, and partnerships with local and state agencies.

CDOT supports law enforcement training and provides information to seniors on alternative ride programs.

CDOT also helps older adults who drive stay safe behind the wheel. This includes sponsoring 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.

“Getting older doesn’t mean it’s time to hang up the keys, but it is a time to reflect on how age affects one’s ability to drive,” said CDOT’s Office of Transportation Safety Director Darrell Lingk. “Taking proactive steps to stay safe as you age is important. And with so many transportation alternatives, it has never been easier to find other ways to get around.”

While some drivers can safely drive into their nineties, others experience medical conditions, problems with eyesight, sleep, tremors and memory – making driving more difficult and dangerous.

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 is also available through Health Promotion Partners.

The organization also offers driver safety evaluations, which can be requested by a family or an individual driver to determine the effect of age-related changes on driving fitness.

In Western Colorado, olderwiser.org is a great resource for information on public transit discounts. All Points Transit is a non-profit organization providing public transit services for seniors, people with disabilities and the general public in communities throughout Montrose, Delta, San Miguel and Ouray counties.