OKLAHOMA CITY — Nine in 10 older drivers buckle up when they get behind the wheel and more than a third have taken driver improvement courses, according to data surveying more than 7,000 seniors. Survey findings, collected by AAA, the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) and AARP, also reveal that twice the number of women attend driver safety courses despite the fact that older men drive more often than older women by 12 percent. AAA is promoting the data to help debunk the perception that older drivers are a menace on the road.
"The silver tsunami is often unfairly dubbed as risky and dangerous. The data tell us that they practice safe driving behaviors and that more than a third of older drivers have actively sought out and participated in programs to improve their skills," says Chuck Mai, spokesman for AAA Oklahoma.
The findings were collected from drivers who participated in CarFit, a free program offered by AAA, AOTA and AARP. Typically offered at community events, CarFit employs a 12-point checklist used by trained technicians who assess the fit of a driver's car by checking for optimum and safe settings such as distance from and sight line above the steering wheel and proper mirrors settings. Driving skills are not evaluated.
According to CarFit participant data, the top four "fit" challenges for older drivers include improper distance from steering wheel (59 percent), inadequate views from side mirrors (32 percent), improper seat height (28 percent) and improper head restraint height (21 percent). The good news is that after a participating in a CarFit program, 97 percent of older drivers' issues were resolved.