Rehabilitation Helps Older Drivers Keep Their Keys
Driving rehabilitation offers seniors a chance behind the wheel again
Driving rehabilitation specialists are physical therapists who ride along with seniors to assess how older drivers are coping on roadways. They test everything from range of motion to driving habits to reflexes. Often, older drivers don't need driving privileges revoked entirely. Sometimes older drivers just need to unlearn bad habits they've developed, or they need to restrict their driving to only during the day or to local roads.
There is no comprehensive national plan on how to deal with aging drivers. The issue is mostly left to family members to hash out, and sometimes drivers end up behind the wheel long after they should have hung up the keys.
Driving rehabilitation specialists assessments are sometimes be covered by health insurance or Medicaid. The American Occupational Therapy Association provides a tool on their website for locating such specialists by zip code.
Older drivers aren't usually automatically tested by the state unless there has already been a problem. Many states provide hotlines for anonymous tipsters who spot dangerous drivers, but only one state, Illinois, requires elderly drivers to retake road tests. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released a five year plan this month for implementing nationwide tools to assess older driver's roadworthiness.
Americans are getting older on average and it shows on the road. NHTSA found a 20 percent increase since 2003 in drivers over 65. That is 35 million elderly licensed drivers on the road. They also found crashes involving the elderly have increase. In 2012, drivers over 65 were involved in three percent more fatal crashes and 16 percent more injuries than the previous year.
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