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Is it time to have “the talk?”

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Holiday gatherings provide a good opportunity to raise the subject of aging driver safety.

Dec. 5, 2022

For more information, contact Kelly Kapri, program manager, 503-986-3293

SALEM – Losing one’s ability to drive is never easy; addressing the issue with loved ones may seem even harder. That’s why, this holiday season, ODOT offers tips for identifying and talking about safety for aging drivers. Holiday gatherings and road trips may provide a unique opportunity to assess driving behavior, have a discussion and develop a plan.

When should an aging driver stop driving? There’s no easy answer, and it differs for everyone, but we can help. ODOT joins the nation in increasing awareness during Older Driver Safety Awareness Week, Dec. 5-9, and our message is simple: talk about it and make a plan!

“The ability to drive is often closely associated with independence, and no one wants that taken away,” says Kelly Kapri, Aging Road Users Program manager in ODOT’s Transportation Safety Office. “It’s important to start the discussion early and plan for the future. You’ll still be in charge because you are prepared for what is inevitable for most of us – putting away the keys for good to save your life or possibly others.”

Here are more resources to help get the conversation going:

• Oregon Department of Transportation’s DMV older driver page.
• Oregon Department of Transportation’s Safe Driving/Aging Road Users website.
• Aging and Disability Resource Connection of Oregon.
• National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Older Driver resources.
• Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Older Adult Drivers website.
• AARP Older Driver Safety.

In Oregon, the fatality rate of drivers 65+ is 17 times higher than for drivers age 25 – 64. ODOT research shows that older drivers are particularly at risk at intersections and making left turns in intersections. These situations create additional complexity in the visual field for older drivers. Older drivers are encouraged to take driver training; it can be a key part of your plan and you may even receive an insurance reduction.

Having discussions about this topic and then making decisions can be difficult, but they keep people – including those we care about most – safe.
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