"ONTARIO MINISTRY OF TRANSPORTATION'S SENIOR DRIVER EDUCATION" PROGRAM
"Staying mobile is important to the lifestyle of today's seniors. Growing older doesn't mean you have to give up driving. No one loses his or her driver's license solely because of age. As we get older, we change. And while the years following the age of 50 can be wonderful, some of us become hard of hearing, others need corrective lenses, and our reflexes may slow down. Drivers should learn to recognize individual changes and adjust their driving habits accordingly." -mto.gov.on.ca
The aim of the “Ontario Ministry of Transportation's Senior Driver Education” Program is to:
- Talk about the effects of aging on driving
- Help senior drivers deal with traffic situations and traffic safety
- Review or refresh rules of the road and traffic signs
- Help senior drivers drive safely for as long as possible
- Help senior drivers decide when it is time to limit or stop driving
The program defines a "Safety Driving Cycle Strategy" for seniors of Look, Think, Act:
Looking (scanning) -paying attention to everything around including what other drivers are doing in front, behind and to both sides of the car. Things to watch out for include: brake lights of the car in front, an emergency vehicle in the intersection ahead, a car in front turning onto the road, a honking horn, or road signs and traffic lights.
Think (Decide) - decide how to respond based on what you see and hear. For example why did the car in front of you put on their brake lights? Do you also need to slow down? etc.
Act - You need to act. For example if there is an intersection ahead with a stop sign, check your rear view mirror, gently apply the brakes and slowly come to a complete stop a safe distance behind the car in front of you.
The Effects of aging on driving such as physical changes in vision, hearing, movement and reaction time.
-Seeing less clearly especially at night or at dusk and dawn, judging distance, being more sensitive to glare such as rain and light on the windshield. Cataract disease, glaucoma and macular degeneration can seriously affect the ability to drive.
-Hearing loss can affect the ability to hear horns, sirens and brakes.
-Flexibility, Movement and Strength – with age there may be more stiffness and less range of movement in the neck, shoulders, arms and trunk. Flexibility affects the ability to: check your blind spot, look for traffic and pedestrians at intersections, merge with oncoming traffic, yield the right of way, back up and park. Osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis can also makes moving more difficult and painful.
-Reaction Time and Concentration- can be slower and senior drivers can be more easily distracted
The Possible Effects of Drugs on Driving include: drowsiness, dizziness, blurred vision, difficulty concentrating and staying awake, confusion, memory lapses, difficulty staying in the proper lane.
Good Practices to Maintain Driving Fitness - regular medical, eye and hearing check-ups, care for health (eat well, get enough sleep), stay physically active, and mentally active
A Personal Action Plan-for seniors may consist of a self-assessment questionnaire for a senior driver including:
Am I experiencing an increasing number of near collisions?
Have I been directly involved in minor collisions?
Do I have difficulty driving through intersections, judging distance, or seeing pedestrians, road signs, or other vehicles?
Do I have difficulty concentrating while driving?
Do I get lost or disoriented on familiar roads?
Do I have difficulty co-ordinating hand and foot movements?
Am I experiencing vision problems, especially at night?
Do I get nervous behind the wheel?
Do other motorists frequently honk at me?
Do family members express concern about my driving ability?
High Risk Situations -Seniors can become more aware of dealing with high risk driving situations by refreshing their knowledge and preparing strategies for avoiding or dealing with certain situations such as:
-Turning (particularly left turns)
-Entering and exiting roadways, merging
-Maintaining lane position and speed
-Reading road signs
-Paying attention to traffic lights and stop signs
-Responding to fast paced situations
Road Signs Review- Road signs and traffic lights tell you what to do (or not to do) and when and are important to brush up on for senior drivers.
Seniors have good driver judgment. Judgment comes with experience and seniors have a wealth of experience. Many seniors have been driving for years, on all kinds of roads and in all kinds of situations.
Ability to Adapt - Seniors have shown they can adapt to the many changes that have occurred in roads and motor vehicles over the years. Many seniors also make changes in their driving habits, example; choosing not to drive at night, in bad weather or in heavy traffic. This ability to adapt is very important as we experience the effects of getting older.