In a synchronization of schedules to spotlight the second annual ‘Senior Safe Mobility Day’ on Oct. 25, all 14 California public broadcasting stations will air The Golden Road, a 30-minute documentary designed to help senior drivers and their families correctly assess seniors’ driving abilities and decrease driving dangers.
This documentary-styled broadcast, produced by Bay Area PBS station KQED and underwritten by 21st Century Insurance, was made in cooperation with the California Highway Patrol, which uses the broadcast as part of its community-based senior outreach in conjunction with its Older Californian Traffic Safety (OCTS) Task Force. The CHP has already distributed copies of The Golden Road to each of its 100 offices statewide.
“Older drivers as a group tend to be safe, but we have to realize that at some point they may have physical and awareness problems that do interfere with their ability to drive,” said CHP Commissioner Mike Brown. “That puts them and other drivers at risk. It’s important for seniors to understand that self assessment is critical.”
More than 36 million seniors (65 and older) live in the United States, and that number is expected to more than double by 2050. More than 2.5 million licensed drivers aged 65 and older live in California alone.
“As drivers age, the changes to their bodies affect their ability to drive,” said geriatric physician Dr. Irina de Fischer. “Diminished eyesight, increased fatigue, loss of limb mobility, as well as the body’s reaction to prescription medications are all factors in an older driver’s diminished driving abilities.”
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, seniors are expected to represent 25 percent of the driving age population and 25 percent of fatal crash involvements by 2030. When measured by actual miles driven, elderly drivers are more likely to be involved in fatal car crashes than any other adult age group (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety).
“The deterioration of a loved one’s driving abilities can reach a point where families are confronted with a heart wrenching situation — but one that must be faced,” said Joyce Prager, assistant vice president of Community Relations for 21st Century Insurance. “We funded the production of The Golden Road to provide self-assessment tips for senior drivers and to give family members tips on how to talk to aging drivers about this important issue.”
Senior drivers should ask themselves the following questions:
* Have you come to dread the idea of driving during bad weather or at night?
* Do you find left-hand turns and busy intersections more difficult to navigate?
* Have you noticed a change in the way other drivers behave? Do they drive too fast and tailgate, and have they become more hostile?
* Is parking more difficult? Have you stopped trying to parallel-park?
* Do cars sometimes seem to appear from nowhere? Have your near-misses increased?
* Do you forget your route? Do you pass roads and intersections where you meant to turn?
“I only drive at night when I have to, and I also try to avoid driving in the rain,” said Kent Milton, CHP Older Driver Research consultant. “I’m not to the point where I don’t drive freeways, but I know that’s coming.”
The Golden Road is 30 minutes long and is narrated by Will Lyman, the voice of PBS programming NOVA and Frontline.
The companion Web site, www.thegoldenroad.org, offers tips for seniors and advice for families. Copies of the program are available on VHS or DVD by calling (415) 553-3370 or by visiting www.thegoldenroad.org.
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