Older Adults and Driving

night drivingStarting on April 21, there will be changes to the Driver Renewal Program for older adults 80+ in Ontario. According to the Ontario Ministry of Transport (MTO) once drivers reach 80 years of age, every two years they must:
– take a vision test
– undergo a driver record review
– attend a group education session
– complete two, brief, non-computerized in-class screening assignments and,
– if necessary, take a road test and submit a medical form.

The old process took approximately 3.5 hours. The new process, lauded by the MTO as a ‘better and less stressful way’ to be tested, takes only 90 minutes. The group education sessions have been shortened and the knowledge test will become two screening assignments. You can download practice examples of the screening component from the MTO website. “The new evaluation procedure came from years of work with Candrive, an interdisciplinary group of researchers seeking to keep the elderly driving safely” according to an article in the Globe and Mail.

In order to help older adults maintain their driver’s license a list of Safety Tips for the Older Driver are presented on the Canada Safety Council’s website. In addition, the Canada Safety Council offers a 55 Alive Driver Refresher Course to help individuals 55+ retain their driving privileges.

New technologies are rapidly adding features to cars that can help enhance an older adult’s driving abilities. MIT’s AgeLab and The Hartford Center for Mature Market Excellence have done extensive research on the ‘Top Technologies for Mature Drivers’ and have found the following ten technologies to be beneficial
for older adults:

  1. Smart headlights: adjust the range and intensity of light based on the distance of traffic to reduce glare and improve night vision
  2. Emergency response systems: offer quick assistance to drivers in the case of a medical emergency or collision, often allowing emergency personnel to get to the scene more quickly
  3. Reverse monitoring systems: warn of objects to the rear of the vehicle to help drivers judge distances and back up safely, which can help drivers with reduced mobility
  4. Blind spot warning systems: warn drivers of objects in blind spots, especially while changing lanes and parking, and helps those with limited range of motion
  5. Lane departure warning: monitors the vehicle’s position and warns the driver if the vehicle deviates outside the lane, helping drivers stay in their lane
  6. Vehicle stability control: helps to automatically bring the vehicle back in the intended line of travel, particularly in situations where the driver underestimates the angle of a curve or experiences weather effects, and reduces the likelihood of a crash
  7. Assistive parking systems: enable vehicles to park on their own or indicates distance to objects, reducing driver stress, making parking easier, and increasing the places that a driver can park
  8. Voice activated systems: allow drivers to access features by voice command so they can remain focused on the road
  9. Crash mitigation systems: detect when the vehicle may be in danger of a collision and can help to minimize injuries to passengers
  10. Drowsy driver alerts: monitor the degree to which a driver may be inattentive while on the road and helps alert drivers to the driving task

With April showers come slippery roads. Be careful and happy trails.



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