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ODOT, Department of Aging, launch websites to provide older drivers with safety resources

driver behind wheel sitting in traffic
Dan Gold

Agencies across Ohio have partnered to launch multiple webpages to provide resources for older drivers as part of Older Driver Safety Awareness Week.

The resources can help older drivers adopt good practices to stay safe while driving and find alternatives if they can no longer drive safely.

Kara Hitchens is the public and government affairs manager for AAA Cincinnati. She says older drivers are typically the safest drivers, but they are still more likely die if they get into an accident.

"That's the unfortunate truth about aging," Hitchens said. "Your body becomes more frail and less likely to survive a crash injury."

Based on U.S. Census data, it's projected 27% of Ohio drivers in 2030 will be 65 or older. In 2019, the number of deaths involving older drivers represented 23% of all traffic deaths statewide. While older driver crash deaths declined in 2020 when people stayed home, they are rising again this year as vaccinations increase and people resume activities.

Hitchens says people will outlive their safe driving ability by up to seven years and drivers should think about retiring from the road down the line.

"It's not a decision that you're going to make overnight, but you’re going to see, each individual is going to see in themselves maybe, some changes, some vision changes and all of a sudden you're deciding, 'Well, I can't see very well at night, so I won't drive at night,'" Hitchens said. "As that progresses, you need to think about how is that impacting everything that (you) do."

When drivers decide to hang up the keys, Hitchens reminds them that they don't have to be isolated.

"A lot of times, people who give up their keys tend to feel isolated, like they can't get anywhere. That's not the case." Hitchens said. "There's public transportation. A lot of the time senior citizen centers have buses that will take people different places. Even with public transportation, there may be a specific program for seniors."

The Ohio Department of Aging offers these tips for finding information about alternative transportation. ODOT and the Ohio Department of Aging have separate webpages to aid drivers and families with the process.

Cory Sharber attended Murray State University majoring in journalism and political science and comes to Cincinnati Public Radio from NPR Member station WKMS.