KSP Highway Safety Branch
Sergeant Michael B. Webb
Kentucky State Police
Public Affairs Branch
Office (502) 782-1780
KSP Highway Safety Branch News Release
KSP Promotes Mature Driver Awareness in February
Date of News Release: 02/15/08
(FRANKFORT, Ky.) - The KSP Highway Safety Branch has deemed February as "Mature Driver Awareness Month" and have been focusing efforts on educating drivers fifty-five and older about the importance of safe driving.
KSP Trooper Ron Turley will teach two defensive driver courses at the AAA Blue Grass office on February 19th and 20th in Lexington. Persons interested in registering for the course should call 859-233-1111 to reserve a space in one of the classes.
Trooper Turley works with several of the Kentucky AAA offices to provide defensive driving courses aimed at drivers fifty-five and older.
Christopher Coakford works in the AAA Safety Foundation office in Lexington and recommended the course for mature drivers.
"The defensive driver course is an excellent way for mature drivers to brush up on their skills and there is no registration fee to attend. Most insurance companies in Kentucky offer a three-year discount for policy holders fifty-five and older who complete the class," added Coakford.
Last year in Kentucky there were 39,892 collisions and 267 fatalities involving drivers fifty-five and older. Of those fatalities, 104 were drivers seventy years and older. In the United States, an estimated 20 million people currently seventy or older have active drivers' licenses. The Census Bureau predicts by 2020, those seventy or over will grow to 37 million and by 2030, over 50 million.
Captain Tim Lucas, Commander for the KSP Highway Safety Branch stressed the importance of self evaluation when determining 'How old is too old to drive?'
"Aging drivers are capable and have a lifetime of valuable driving experience. For these reasons, decisions about a person's ability to drive should never be based on age alone," said Lucas.
"However, changes in vision, physical fitness and reflexes may cause safety concerns. People who accurately assess these changes can adjust their driving habits so that they stay safe on the road, or choose another form of transportation," added Lucas.
While most seniors take appropriate steps when they detect a problem with their driving, it's not always obvious when a general health problem, vision problem, or a side effect of medications will lead to a driving impairment. That's when the observations of loved ones and health professionals are most vital.
"One of the hardest decisions for a family to make is to tell a loved one that they have concerns about their driving ability. We want these family members to know that they are not alone in this and can receive assistance from the Kentucky Medical Review Board," said Lucas.
The Kentucky Medical Review Board identifies drivers with physical or mental impairments which hamper their ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. The Medical Review Board consists of ophthalmologists, neurologists, psychiatrists, and rehabilitation specialists. Board members provide medical advice to the Division of Driver Licensing on license applicants and licensees that are reported to the Board.
To report a driver to the Medical Review Board an individual must complete an affidavit that can be obtained at a Circuit Court Clerk's office or by calling the Medical Review Board at 502-564-0280.
Once the individual has been set up under the Medical Review Board program a medical form will be mailed for completion by the treating physician. Once this information is reviewed, the individual will be notified of the Board's decision regarding their driving privilege.
Another valuable asset for mature drivers is their local AARP office. AARP defensive driving courses are held in many localities. To find a location nearest you call 1-888-AARP-NOW (1-888-227-7669). AARP volunteers will respond with information about suitable AARP defensive driving courses within 3 to 5 business days.
If you are concerned about an elderly driver, closely monitor their driving before deciding whether they need to brush up on their driving skills or give up their driver's license altogether. Some steps include:
- Watch for changes in driving habits, general behavior, and health.
- Offer the senior some self-evaluation tools to assess driving risk, or work together on quizzes such as those available from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at http://www.nhtsa.gov/.
- Explore ways to reduce driving, such as making purchases online or through mail-order catalogs. If possible, arrange for home delivery of groceries, and home visits by clergy, medical and personal care providers, and government service providers.
- If necessary, garner support from the older adult's primary care physician and other family members.
- Research and propose alternative modes of transportation. Maybe the senior can continue to drive some of the time (such as in the daytime or off the freeway), and alternative transportation can fill the need for rides at other times.
Lucas assured that the Mature Driver Awareness month is not a referendum on senior drivers, but an opportunity to bring awareness to aging drivers and their families about the importance of continued evaluation of driving skills.
"Our goal is to provide education and training tools for all Kentuckians regardless of age to deter the loss of life and preventable tragedies," Lucas said.