For older adults and people with disabilities who can and want to continue to drive, there are a number of up-to-date resources available that answer questions about driver readiness and safety.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is conducting a series of long-range studies on aging drivers called the LongROAD project (Longitudinal Research on Aging Drivers). The first study in the series was completed in March and makes some observations about the connection between older adults with a history of falling and their likelihood of being in a crash. As reported in the July/August 2106 issue of AAA World Magazine, AAA’s research found that older drivers who have a history of falls are 40% more likely to be involved in auto crashes than their peers. Falls can be indicators of declining health and AAA offers Roadwise Review, a tool for self-evaluation of physical and mental fitness for driving. CarFit is another program supported by AAA. Certified technicians can conduct a 12-point check in less than 30 minutes that identifies problem points for the driver. Simple adjustments to rearview and side mirrors or the distance of the seat from the steering wheel can minimize threats to the driver while helping them account for decreasing range of motion.
If you’re a driver who has a disability, you may have questions about vehicle modifications, insurance, and maintaining your license. The MoneyGeek article, From Vehicle Modifications to Car Insurance, outlines average costs for modifying a vehicle. According to the article, potential sources of financial assistance include the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs funding for adaptive equipment, the Social Security Administration Plan to Achieve Self Support (PASS) program, tax deductions for assistive devices, automotive manufacturer rebates, and state departments of vocational rehabilitation. As the article notes, any modification work should be completed by a reliable vendor. The National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association website has more information on what to look for when considering dealers and parts.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits insurance companies from denying insurance to licensed drivers who have a disability. In some cases, additional insurance may be needed if your vehicle has been modified to protect equipment, prosthetics, or mobility devices. The MoneyGeek article also lists examples of ways that discrimination can occur and steps drivers can take to report discrimination.
The resources mentioned above illustrate that there are a variety of ways motorists can monitor their own ability to drive safely. For additional information on driver safety, driver and pedestrian interactions, and transition to non-auto modes, check our NADTC Resources section for Driver Safety & Transition publications.