Confidential driving evaluation helps older drivers stay safe at the wheel
With age comes beauty, wisdom, grace. Unfortunately, sometimes age picks up some hitchhikers like reduced mobility, decreased strength and changes to our vision.
Research shows that safe driving isn't about the number of candles on your birthday cake - but as we age it's critical to have a clear perspective on how medical conditions and natural physical changes affect our safety on the road.
After hearing from more and more members concerned about their own safety or the safety of a loved one, AMA Driver Education developed the Seniors In-Vehicle Evaluation to provide a comprehensive, accurate and confidential assessment of driving ability.
"The Seniors In-Vehicle Evaluation really brings it all together for an older driver, or really any driver who's facing changes to their physical or cognitive ability," says AMA Driver Education instructor Rick Robie, who helped develop the program. "Being able to get behind the wheel with an impartial driving expert gives people a clear view of the road ahead. We can help people focus on what's really happening in the driver's seat with an eye to improving their safety and mobility."
Through a detailed questionnaire, vision test and one-on-one driving experience, a specially-trained driving instructor will put together a written report and recommendation for next steps. For many drivers, it's simply a vote of confidence and a few simple tips to adapt driving behaviour and compensate for any physical challenges.
But for drivers facing challenges like gripping the wheel, performing shoulder checks, or losing focus in traffic, the Seniors In-Vehicle Evaluation can outline a course of action to deal with concerns or start planning a transition to the passenger seat. Key to building that trust is the confidential nature of the program, something Robie says AMA takes to heart.
"This is a hugely personal issue for people. Driving represents freedom, especially as we want to stay independent in our homes while we age," Robie explains, "And we know independence is a critical factor in health and quality of life. Finding that balance between being self-sufficient and being safe isn't always that simple. It's okay to ask for help and sometimes a quick refresher can help people adapt their driving and boost their confidence behind the wheel."
For anyone concerned about their own driving, or the driving safety of a spouse, adult parent, client or even a neighbour, SeniorsDriving.caa.ca has reliable information about common physical effects of aging and medications, tips to adapt driving habits, and details about renewing an Alberta driver licence after age 75.
Videos and other resources can help you approach the conversation of driving safety in a safe, non-threatening way.