1.2 General Communications and Education
Overall Effectiveness Concerns: There are no known evaluations of the effects of this material on driving or on crashes (Potts et al., 2004, Strategy D2).
Many organizations offer educational material for older drivers to inform them of driving risks, help them assess their driving knowledge and capabilities, suggest methods to adapt to and compensate for changing capabilities, and guide them in restricting their driving in more risky situations (Potts et al., 2004, Strategy D2).
Self-assessment tools include:
- AAA’s Roadwise Review, a CD-ROM and instruction booklet;
- AARP’s Older Driver Skill Assessment and Resource Guide;
- American Medical Association’s Am I a Safe Driver? one-page checklist; and
- University of Michigan’s Driving Decisions Workbook. See Stutts (2005) for brief descriptions and web links.
Other programs and material include:
- NHTSA’s Older Driver Safety web page contains information for caregivers and older drivers, see www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/older-drivers
- CarFit, a program developed by AAA, AARP, and the American Occupational Therapy Association to help older drivers find a proper fit in their personal vehicles;
- Drive Well Toolkit, a joint program of American Society on Aging and NHTSA;
- Getting Around, from Emergency Nurses CARE, on safe driving decisions, pedestrian safety, and safe medication use;
- Information from NHTSA and many State motor vehicle offices on general issues of older drivers or specific topics such as driving with glaucoma or arthritis; and
- NHTSA’s Introduction to Medically At Risk Driving (www.youtube.com/watch?v=sMwis4jT4Fw) provides an introduction to the symptoms of medical impairments in older drivers.
See Potts et al. (2004, Strategy D2) and Stutts (2005) for examples, brief descriptions, and web links. See also AAAFTS (2009) for examples of public information and awareness material included in its “Noteworthy Initiatives” database.
Other material is available to assist drivers and family members in understanding how aging affects driving, the effects of medications and health conditions, how to assess an older driver’s skills, how to use specialized vehicle equipment to adapt to certain physical limitations, how to guide older drivers into voluntarily restricting their driving, and how to report older drivers to the department of motor vehicles if necessary (Stutts, 2005). Examples include:
- NHTSA’s series of fact sheets and more detailed information for older drivers and their families and friends, available from NHTSA’s older driver program website: www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/older-drivers
- Clearinghouse for Older Road User Safety: www.roadsafeseniors.org
- AAA’s How to Help an Older Driver; https://seniordriving.aaa.com/download/how-to-help-an-older-driver-brochure/
- The Hartford’s At the Crossroads: A Guide to Alzheimer’s Disease, Dementia and Driving; https://s0.hfdstatic.com/sites/the_hartford/files/cmme-crossroads.pdf
- The Association for Driver Rehabilitation Specialists’ series of fact sheets on issues such as driving after a stroke, driving with rheumatoid arthritis, and driving after a limb amputation; www.aded.net/page/510
- New York State Office for the Aging’s When You Are Concerned: A handbook for families, friends and caregivers worried about the safety of an aging driver: https://aging.ny.gov/system/files/documents/2019/10/when-you-are-concerned-2015-03-km-ah-1opt.pdf.
Use: Data are not available on how frequently these programs are used.
Effectiveness: The limited information available suggests that some material may increase driver’s knowledge. One recent study evaluated compliance of both younger and older drivers to the CarFit program criteria (McConomy et al., 2018). The study found that post-CarFit education, older drivers were five times more likely to adjust themselves to correct line of sight criterion than younger drivers. Not all older drivers positioned themselves correctly with respect to pedal access; some sat too far to reach the brake pedals. The study found that age and stature were significantly associated with compliance to CarFit criteria. Recommendations include the provision of education or equipment to enable older drivers’ fit with car pedal setups. As discussed in the Older Drivers chapter, Section 1.1, none of the more structured formal courses has been shown to reduce crashes.
Costs: Funds are required for producing and distributing material.
Time to implement: Material and programs are available and ready for use.
- Seat belt use: Seat belts are even more effective in preventing injuries and fatalities to older than to younger occupants (Potts et al., 2004, Strategy E1). While belt use among older occupants is comparable to that of younger occupants – 91% for occupants 70 and older and 90% for occupants 25 to 69 in 2017 (Li & Pickrell, 2019) – the fact remains that nearly 1 in 8 older occupants is unbelted. Communications and outreach on the benefits of seat belt use may be more effective with older occupants than with younger because they may be more attentive to health and safety issues. For example, signs urging seat belt use increased belt use substantially in 6 senior communities compared to controls, and use remained higher after 4 years (Cox et al., 2005). No other State or local seat belt use efforts directed at older occupants have been identified (Potts et al., 2004, Strategy E1).
- Considerations for Future Education for Older Drivers: In a review of the five-level model of driver education, Goals for Driver Education in the Social Perspective (GDE 5 SOC), Keskinen (2014) indicates that education for older drivers could be improved if it were more focused on a process of mutual understanding where the instructor helps older drivers learn more about their own abilities and challenges while driving rather than teaching knowledge or skills.