Maintaining independence is one of the most important parts of keeping up a good quality of life as people get older. For a lot of elderly people in California, having a driver’s license means the difference between being able to run errands or attend social engagements on their own and having to rely on their loved ones for help with basic daily tasks.
However, it is important to remember that people’s bodies change as they get older, and most drivers aren’t in the same condition as senior citizens as they were when they first got their licenses. Eyesight, hearing and reaction time all degrade as people age. In addition, mental problems like dementia and Alzheimer’s can creep in, often causing problems well before they are detected.
All of these things can pose significant dangers for elderly drivers. It is for this reason that the California Highway Patrol offers continuing education programming for senior citizen drivers.
The most popular program is called “Age Well Drive Smart.” The class provides seniors with tips to improve their safety behind the wheel, and teaches them to adjust their driving habits for the physical changes that come with age. In addition, the class provides a safe space for seniors to ask questions and share concerns about driving safety.
Initiatives like this one will only become more needed as California’s population ages. According to the CHP, state data shows that California is projected to be home to more than 6 million senior citizens by 2020.
Anybody who is interested in these classes can get more information from their local senior center or CHP office.
Source: Occupational Health and Safety, “CA Highway Patrol Maintains Senior Driving Classes,” March 28, 2013.
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