Keeping senior drivers physically flexible, alert can prevent crashes
Regular exercise and stretching can help to keep older drivers on the road longer and improve safety, a AAA study said.
“It is important that we find ways to keep older drivers in good physical health in order to extend their mobility,” Dr. David Yang, said executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety hired Columbia University researchers to explore areas such as depression, anxiety, fatigue, sleep disturbance, pain, physical functioning and participation in social activities.
Older adults forced to surrender the keys are more likely to suffer from depression than those who remain behind the wheel, Yang said.
Fatigue and poor physical functioning were most common among older drivers who spend less time behind the wheel, researchers found.
Steps that can prevent elderly driver crashes
The good news is that simple steps can extend the time that older motorists keep their independence by driving. Daily exercise and stretching can help older drivers by improving flexibility, letting them more freely observe the road from all angles and keeping them alert to road hazards.
Helping older drivers prevent accidents through the focus on physical strength aids in the performance of driving functions like:
- Looking to the side and rear
- Adjusting seat belts
- Sitting for long periods
Exercise doesn’t have to be strenuous to produce positive results.
“A few minutes at a time can be sufficient,” said Jake Nelson, AAA director of traffic safety advocacy and research.
The goal of helping older drivers prevent accidents includes AAA recommendations for a series of simple stretches — neck, shoulder, trunk, back — that senior citizen motorists can do to enhance body flexibility.
Senior citizens can contact local senior centers or parks and recreation departments to learn about fitness programs in their communities.
Older adults also can visit the AAA web page on senior citizen fitness for tips in helping older drivers prevent accidents.
Exercise should be part of helping older drivers prevent accidents. Older adults who are physically able should get between 2.5 - 5 hours of moderate-intensity exercise each week or 75 minutes - 2.5 hours of high-intensity physical activity. That’s according to a recommendation from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cited in the AAA post.
Older adults should also consult their doctor before beginning a new exercise regimen.
AAA also offers driver improvement courses for senior citizens, and among benefits are potential discounts on vehicle insurance costs. Senior citizen drivers are at a higher risk of having a serious accident than any other age group except for those under age 25.
The increased fragility that comes with age means that drivers 85 and older are injured or killed in crashes at a higher rate than any age group. Older drivers are generally less able to withstand the forces of a crash than younger motorists.
The Columbia University research in relation to helping older drivers prevent accidents is part of a multi-year effort by AAA called the AAA LongROAD (Longitudinal Research on Aging Drivers) study. Researchers are examining 2,990 senior citizens across a five-year time spans.
The study recognizes that lifestyle changes, medication and other innovations will have a strong impact on the driving experiences of the Baby Boomer generation (generally those born between 1946-1964).
Contact Ausman Law Firm Of Nebraska today for issues related to helping older drivers prevent accidents and for help in car accidents and personal injury cases.