If your parent or relative has a history of falling, it may indicate declining physical fitness, which in turn, can affect their ability to drive safely.
A new study, issued by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, finds older drivers who constantly fall are 40% more likely to be involved in crashes than their peers.
That’s because falls can limit an older driver’s ability to function behind the wheel. Fractured wrists or broken legs, healed over time, could make braking or steering difficult; while poor balance, slow reaction time, and vision problems weakens a driver’s ability to avoid crashes. More important, however, is a driver’s fear of falling can also lead to decreased physical activity that diminishes basic driving skills and shakes driving confidence.
The report, Associations Between Falls and Driving Outcomes in Older Adults, points out a record 12 million older adults will experience a fall in their lifetime. It also reports drivers 60 years and older are involved in more than 400,000 crashes annually. The report is the latest research released in the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s Longitudinal Research on Aging Drivers (LongROAD) project.
“This research is critical because it shows we can now use an older driver’s fall history to identify if they’re at greater risk for a crash,” said Peter Kissinger, AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety president.
As a leading advocate for senior driver safety, AAA offers several resources to help older drivers improve driving performance. The website, seniordriving.aaa.com, offers programs that ‘fit’ older drivers to their cars, provide refresher driving classes and a series of exercises to improve overall body flexibility, which can help drivers, who have suffered from a recent fall. For a list of driving improvement classes aimed at the mature driver, visit aaa.com/driverimprovement.
AAA Northeast is a not-for-profit auto club with 61 offices in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey and New York providing more than 5.2 million local AAA members with travel, insurance, finance, and auto-related services.