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Promoting elderly driving safety in Montana

When a drunk, drowsy, distracted or enraged driver gets behind the wheel of a vehicle, society recognizes that this driver is a potential threat to the safety of other motorists. However, far more subtle driving behavior can also greatly impact the ability of other motorists to remain safe while on the road. When elderly drivers fail to recognize their limitations and adjust their driving behaviors accordingly, devastating car accidents may occur.

As a result, it is important for communities in Montana to promote safe driving behaviors and driving education for elderly motorists. Failure to address the unique needs of this population can impact the safety of all. Estimates indicate that by the year 2020, there will be more than 40 million elderly drivers on American roads. It is critically important that communities in Montana and throughout the nation begin to address related safety issues now in order to facilitate the current and future population of elderly drivers.

The aging process affects every individual in unique ways. Therefore, not every elderly driver poses a safety threat. However, elderly drivers are far more likely to be involved in crashes than various other driving populations and they are more likely to suffer death or injury when these crashes occur. As a result, it is important for all elderly drivers to be screened regularly by their physicians for signs that it may be time to hang up the keys.

Elderly drivers can also benefit from additional safety courses, driving law refresher courses and other initiatives designed for their unique needs. Whether you are an elderly driver or simply a concerned citizen, it is time to act urgently in regards to elderly driving safety right here in Montana.

Source: AARP, “Drive Well - Promoting Older Driver Safety and Mobility in Your Community,” July 10, 2013

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