Considering the skills of aging drivers

Many of us have parents, grandparents, perhaps other family members or friends who are reaching an age when driving can be a challenge. We might even ourselves be experiencing some early signs, such as difficulty seeing at night.

Yet how can you know when it might be time to step back from getting behind the wheel?

Michigan has resources available on gauging the skills of aging drivers, Secretary of State Ruth Johnson said. The Safe Drivers Smart Options website at www.Michigan.gov/agingdriver was created for those drivers, their families and professionals, such as health care providers and law enforcement.

“The fastest-growing segment of our state’s population is residents age 65 and older,” Johnson said, noting 1 in 7 drivers in Michigan has reached that threshold. Experts predict that ratio will rise to 1 in 5 by 2025.

The week that starts Monday is designated nationally and in Michigan as Older Driver Safety Awareness Week. It includes self-assessment driving tools, videos, links to driver refresher courses and other community supports for aging drivers, information about how medications and health problems may affect driving and lists of resources available to drivers once they stop driving.

Its three primary goals are:

— Help aging drivers continue to drive safely;

— Help those no longer able to drive safely transition to non-driving;

— Provide community resources and mobility options for those no longer driving.

The decision to give up the keys can be traumatic for drivers and their families, especially at this time of year when people are reconnecting over the holidays.

“Aging drivers can be a difficult topic,” Johnson said. “Each family faces the issue in the way most suitable for them. But I want all Michigan residents to know that help and information is available through the Safe Drivers Smart Options website.”

More information about the Safe Drivers Smart Options campaign and the agencies that support it is available at www.Michigan.gov/agingdriver.

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