Certified Las Vegas driving specialist explains how to keep older drivers safe on the roads
LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - It’s often a touchy subject: when should a driver hand over the keys? That question is front and center during Older Driver Safety Awareness Week.
Debbie Hansen, a certified driving rehab specialist, says it depends because driving is based on ability and not age.
“They have years and years of experience which makes them at times better but the physical disability or vision, or physical dysfunction, cognition, can impair those skills that they have built up all those years,” Hansen said.
Gail Morrison, 86, has been driving since her early teens and doesn’t think there should be an age restriction for older drivers.
“I have a disabled husband, and I have to take him to all of his appointments, and he doesn’t want anyone else taking him, so I do a lot of driving,” Morrison said.
As for her experience on the roads?
“It is a nightmare, but I have figured out what the problem is, people come here, this is the play center of the world, people come here from all over the world, and so they bring their own driving patterns,” she added.
Morrison is among the nearly 48 million licensed drivers ages 65 and older in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
About 7,500 older adults were killed in traffic crashes, and almost 200,000 were treated in emergency departments for crash injuries.
Although Morrison can still drive, she does notice some changes.
“The reflexes have definitely diminished but apparently, they are good enough that I do not find a problem,” Morrison said.
She relies on a driving evaluation to make sure she’s in the clear.
Hansen says although older drivers make up 20 percent of Nevada’s total crash deaths, the population is more vulnerable.
“It’s the younger driver that has more at-fault fatalities, and the older driver, however, when they are experienced or involved in that type of situation, they are less likely able to recover quickly due to their age,” Hansen said.
If drivers need help, there are simple devices that can be applied to a vehicle, so that some drivers don’t have to hit the brakes just yet.
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