Plan ahead for safe senior driving

Published On: Sep 11 2012 11:08:53 AM EDT   Updated On: Sep 24 2012 10:47:32 AM EDT

(NewsUSA) - No one wants to admit that aging affects their ability to drive safely. But experts agree that, although not all drivers are the same, driving ability generally begins to deteriorate around age 55.

Kathleen Marvaso, AAA's vice president of Public Affairs, said that as the population ages, senior-driver safety is becoming an increasingly relevant and challenging issue for many families. "Many adult children of senior drivers are looking for help navigating this new and sometimes challenging road," she said. "Our research shows that one of the biggest questions is how to begin the conversation."

AAASeniors.com, AAA's senior safety and mobility Web site, offers the following advice:

* Plan ahead. It's never too early to begin the conversation. Planning ahead means you can discuss gradual adjustments that may be needed over time as a senior gets older. Sometimes, just a few simple adjustments, such as avoiding night or highway driving, can help prolong a senior's safe driving years.

* Approach the conversation with safety as the main objective. Because driving is such a big part of independence, AAA advises to be prepared to face some resistance from the senior driver. Having facts and concrete examples available will help; and a caring tone may make all the difference.

* Talk about the issue during discussions about retirement. Take the same careful approach to transportation that you would with finances and other retirement-related decisions. Future transportation needs may affect other retirement decisions, such as selecting a retirement home. For example, convenience to public transportation or the availability of onsite transportation become important criteria.

"At AAA, we want to foster a society where older adults can remain confident and independent and live to their full potential," Marvaso said. "AAASeniors.com gives seniors and their families the tools necessary to create an action plan to help manage the inevitable consequences of aging, and to help seniors drive for as long as safely possible -- and remain mobile thereafter."

In addition to information about how aging affects driving, and tips for talking to seniors about safe driving, AAASeniors.com also provides an expert advice section, driving skills assessment tools, tips for choosing a safer car, fact sheets, brochures, and referrals to driver-improvement courses and free community-based programs.