Keeping everyone safe on the road
By Bryan Goodland
Driving in Colorado at any time of the year can be a challenge. From unpredictable lane closures and road maintenance to traffic and weather, a road trip can easily become a nightmare. Getting older only adds to these challenges and can make driving even more difficult. The Colorado Department of Transportation is reminding people that Older Driver Safety Awareness Week is the first week of December.
The mission behind the week is to provide older adults and their families resources to evaluate and keep their loved ones safe on the road. One resource that is offered is a car fit evaluation. This educational program, which is normally available in person, is offered virtually at www.car-fit.org. The sessions evaluate how things fit between a driver and a car. These items include: seat belt positioning, steering wheel tilt and distance from the driver, clear sight lines, gas and brake pedal access, mirror adjustments and several other safety checks.
There are plenty of other resources as well. Colorado offers a guide called Colorado’s Guide for Aging Drivers and Their Families. The document is available for free at www.drivesmartcolorado.com and offers older adults and their families information and resources when it comes to decisions about driving. The booklet also discusses changes that Colorado has made to roadways, including roundabouts, advanced street signs for easier directions, roadway markings, and other improvements to make driving easier.
The population in general is aging, and the U.S. Census Bureau states that by 2030, all of the baby-boom generation will be over age 65. In Colorado, one in seven people are age 65 and older. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2018, 6,907 people 65 and older were killed in crashes. This accounts for 19% of all traffic fatalities. These daunting statistics are some of the reasons behind holding Older Driver Safety Awareness Week.
For those that have decided it is time to hang up the car keys for good, there are several transportation options available, including having family and friends take turns driving older adults around.
In Douglas County, while public transportation is limited, there are nonprofit resources, like Aging Resources of Douglas County that offer transportation services to help seniors remain independent.
When traveling in the greater Denver metro area, public transportation is widely available with RTD offering buses and light rail services. To find additional information on how to utilize Colorado’s public transit services to travel locally or regionally, visit https://olderwiser.org/.