At-Home Test for Senior DriversNew tool tests physical and mental driving capabilities
Giving up a driver's license is a devastating decision for seniors in America's mobile society. Knowing when to relinquish the driver's seat is difficult for individual drivers to gauge because there is no driving test in most states for senior license holders. With tragic results, some seniors continue to drive beyond their capability to do so. How does the senior or the senior's family gauge their level of driving skill? With a new tool just released by the AAA, seniors can test eight physical and mental abilities that are the strongest predictors of crash risk among older drivers. "Roadwise Review: A Tool to Help Seniors Drive Safely Longer," is a CD-ROM that seniors can use in their own homes to gauge their driving ability.
Although seniors 70 years and older make up only nine percent of the population and drive less than any other segment of the population, they account for 12 percent of all vehicle occupant fatalities and 17 percent of all pedestrian fatalities, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration by 2020 there will be more than 40 million licensed drivers age 65 and older. A recent AAA survey of more than 1,000 seniors showed that next to financial security and the cost of affordable health care, seniors are most concerned about their continued mobility. The survey also indicated that nearly 90 percent of those polled said they currently drive themselves to get around on a daily basis. States legislate the age at which a person is old enough to get a driver's license, but they do not legislate when a person is too old to drive. The decision to put the keys away is a personal one, but it is a decision that affects the safety of the motoring public.
Research sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Institute on Aging shows that individuals who are below basic levels of key safe driving predictors are 2 to 5 times more likely to be involved in a motor vehicle crash. Utilizing this information, AAA worked closely with scientists at TransAnalytics, a leading transportation safety research organization, to create a driver skill testing tool that is both state-of-the-art and user-friendly. Seniors can call the test up on their home computers to take each skill test and get their results at home. The test also includes information on how to improve skills or how to drive more safely in light of diminishing skills.
"In our extensive focus group testing throughout the United States, senior drivers viewed Roadwise as simple, clear, valuable and even fun to use," said Bella Dinh-Zarr, PhD, AAA Director of Traffic Safety Policy. "Many said they would follow through with the program recommendations because it would extend their safe driving years, as well as help keep themselves and their loved ones safe."
The Roadwise video screens drivers in eight functional areas:
Leg Strength and General Mobility-Necessary to control acceleration and braking.
Head/Neck Flexibility-Essential in checking blind spots, lane changes or merging.
High Contrast Visual Acuity-Needed to identify pavement markings, as well as detect many types of hazards in or near the road.
Visual Acuity-Vital for driving in low visibility conditions such as dusk, rain or fog.
Working Memory-Important in following directions, remembering traffic rules and regulations, and using information on highway guide signs.
Visualization of Missing Information-Helps a driver recognize hazards even when seeing only part of the picture.
Visual Search-Safe driving requires the ability to quickly find and recognize traffic signs and landmarks.
Field of View-Ensures drivers can pay attention to what is happening right in front of them while also noticing safety threats at the edge of their field of view.
Roadwise uses an integrated data system that reports and provides users with confidential feedback about screening results and its CD-ROM format is compatible with most home computers. To obtain a copy of Roadwise Review contact your participating local club at www.aaa.com or www.aaapublicaffairs.com. Roadwise retails for $15, but many AAA clubs will be offering special discounts and giveaways.