GLEN BURNIE, MD (December 6, 2021) – As Maryland’s aging population grows, the Maryland Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Administration (MDOT MVA) is offering a series of safety tips and resources for Older Driver Safety Awareness Week to ensure drivers remain as safe as possible on the road. Older Driver Safety Awareness Week, recognized from December 6-10, 2021, aims to promote the importance of mobility and transportation options for older adults and emphasize the importance of recognizing changes in driving abilities and understanding risk factors.
“Driving is often seen as a form of independence but with that comes high responsibility,” said MDOT MVA Administrator Chrissy Nizer, who also serves as Governor Larry Hogan’s Highway Safety Representative. “We know that age is not an indication of a driver’s ability, but it is so important that motorists plan ahead and understand how to keep themselves and their loved ones safe on the road.”
One way older drivers can remain safe on the road is by understanding the most common crashes involving older drivers and how to avoid high-risk situations. Safety tips for drivers of all ages include:
- Always wear a seat belt, and make sure all passengers in all seats are belted.
- Allow plenty of time and space when crossing traffic lanes, and pay attention to signs and signals. Judging oncoming traffic can be challenging at intersections and especially when making left-hand turns.
- Use caution when merging onto higher speed roads and when changing lanes.
- Use turn signals and stay alert for cars and pedestrians.
- Always stay in your lane while driving through an intersection.
- Avoid distractions.
- Drive at or near the speed limit. It’s unsafe to drive too fast or too slow.
- Be aware of the risks of drowsy driving from exhaustion, changes in medications or certain medical conditions. Drowsy driving can be just as dangerous as impaired driving.
MDOT MVA produces a Resource Guide for Aging Drivers that provides detailed information and easy-to-use tools for customers to learn more about aging, health and driving. To download the resource guide, click here. Stay aware of changes on the roadways, and driving habits, by taking advantage of the many driver refresher courses and self-assessments available.
Additionally, there are several other safety resources drivers can take advantage of to better understand the features available on newer vehicles designed to help prevent crashes and what adjustments can be made within the vehicle to make driving more comfortable. MyCarDoesWhat and CarFit are both programs that ensure a motorist is up to date on the latest education and their vehicle is properly adjusted to them.
If you or a loved one begins to recognize the warning signs for diminished driving capacity, have conversations with family, friends and your health care provider. Contact an occupational therapist or a driver rehabilitation specialist to get advice and to learn about other transportation options to stay mobile in the community. MDOT MVA’s Resource Guide for Aging Drivers provides a list of Maryland Driver Rehabilitation Programs.
For more information on Older Driver Safety Week through the American Occupational Therapy Association, click here.