DELAWARE OFFICE OF HIGHWAY SAFETY LAUNCHES NEW CAMPAIGN FOCUSED ON DRIVER SAFETY FOR OLDER ADULTS
May 26, 2023
New campaign highlights Delawareans’ self-awareness and recognition of changing driving behaviors associated with aging, while providing caregivers resources to have the important conversation.
DOVER, Del. (May 25, 2023) — As we near the end of May and Older Americans Month, the Delaware Office of Highway Safety (OHS) is pleased to announce the launch of its new safe-driving campaign targeting adults over the age of 65 and their caregivers. Through the new initiative, OHS recognizes the importance of ensuring this age group understands how aging can impact their driving habits and create a risky environment on the road. Along with this key audience, OHS saw a significant opportunity to reach families and friends of these individuals, who may need encouragement to have an important conversation with a loved one once the opportunity presents itself.
“With age, it becomes difficult to understand how an action learned and performed over many years can turn into one of the most challenging. Noticing an increase in stress while driving, seeing cars seemingly appear out of nowhere, and becoming a target of other drivers’ honking are unfortunately all actions and feelings experienced by older drivers,” said Sarah Cattie, Senior Traffic Safety Program Manager, OHS. “Rather than discouraging individuals from operating a vehicle unless necessary, OHS wants to ensure that aging adults look out for warning signs and recognize when a change is needed.”
While celebrating the joy and appreciation for all of life’s many learned and experienced adventures, OHS suggests that the decision to give up your keys is just another life experience waiting to happen. Through grassroots and partner outreach, OHS strives to meet this audience, as well as caregivers, at businesses and organizations throughout the state to ensure Delawareans feel prepared as they face this decision.
With messaging focused on promoting age consciousness, OHS compiled key resources and educational materials to help individuals recognize how changes to health and reliance on medications can impair the ability to drive safely. Because initiating this conversation may feel terrifying to many, OHS felt it necessary to provide aging drivers and caregivers with helpful suggestions to plan for this moment.
OHS offers tips for aging adults to consider while preparing for the future:
- Start planning. If you’re preparing for retirement, it may be useful to consider how you will eventually travel from point A to point B without operating a vehicle.
- See your healthcare provider regularly. To keep up with health changes that impact driving, use the right eyeglasses, take needed medications, and follow provider-approved exercise routines.
- Get help when needed. Although you have driven for most of your life, needing a refresher is OK. Explore available courses in your community for an assessment.
- Renew your license as required. Doing this allows you to test key aspects of your health associated with driving. License renewal includes an eye test and potentially a written exam or road test.
OHS also offers advice for caregivers who are beginning to worry about a loved one operating a vehicle:
- Propose an agreement early on. Get the whole family to agree on what happens when driving becomes a safety issue and make sure to involve the aging driver. This will bring ease to the situation once the time comes.
- Pay attention. Be aware of what you see and hear from others so that you can act when necessary.
- Act with kindness. Make sure you approach this situation in a helpful manner. Focus on the change in driving skills, not age.
- Request a re-examination. If safety becomes an issue, consider asking the DMV for a re-examination of the driver’s skill level.
To further assist individuals in evaluating their driving, a DMV self-assessment is now available via the OHS website. This assessment will not only help individuals determine the right decision but may also present eye-opening questions about behaviors that may have gone unnoticed until now. OHS encourages adults over the age of 65 to review the materials online — there’s also a section dedicated to helping caregivers act.
OHS would like to highlight some key statistics that encouraged them to make this initiative an important focus.
- By 2030, almost 25% of Delaware’s population will be over age 65.
- Drivers over age 70 are more likely to die in crashes than middle-aged drivers, largely because older bodies are less resilient.
- By age 50, nine in 10 people require glasses and experience slowed reaction times.
About the Delaware Office of Highway Safety
The Office of Highway Safety (OHS) is committed to improving the safety of Delaware’s motoring public by focusing on behavioral traffic safety issues, such as impaired driving, seat belt use, speeding, child passenger safety, pedestrian and bicycle safety, motorcycle safety, and teen driving issues. FAQs can be found at ArriveAliveDE.com. Follow OHS on the Delaware Office of Highway Safety website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok.