TOM GREENWOOD

SOS website offers senior drivers helping hand

Tom Greenwood
The Detroit News

Michigan’s number of older drivers — those ages 65 and older — is growing larger every year.

According to the Michigan Secretary of State, we have one of the oldest driving populations in the U.S. According to the 2010 Census, 14 percent of our residents 65 and older are registered drivers.

And that population is growing: In 2005, there were 1,049,582 license holders of that age in Michigan. Currently there are 1,382,133 seniors with driver’s licenses. The number of older drivers is growing, but are the driving skills of older drivers beginning to diminish?

The SOS, along with a number of organizations, are offering a new state resource for aging drivers, their families and the professionals who work with them.

It’s a website called the “Safe Drivers Smart Options: Keys to Lifelong Mobility” and it should be or interest to seniors and to the families that may be concerned about their driving skills.

“In our car-centric world, seniors don’t want to lose their independence,” SOS Ruth Johnson said. “Our goal is to help aging drivers develop strategies that will keep them driving for as long as it is safe to do so. The website also provides options and resources that can ease the transition when the time comes for an aging loved one to give up the car keys.”

The service offers older drivers the chance to assess their driving skills by offering classes and training specifically designed for mature drivers. It helps to identify issues that may affect their driving.

It also offers strategies which can allow seniors to continue driving safely and, most importantly, what to do when the time comes to take away the car keys.

The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, Michigan Department of Transportation, Secretary of State and Michigan State Police, along with the expertise of numerous other state and private sector organizations, provided the resources for the website.

Partner organizations with the program include AARP Michigan, AAA, Michigan Trauma Coalition, and Michigan Academy of Family Physicians.

For more information, visit the Safe Drivers Smart Options website at www.michigan.gov/agingdriver.

tgreenwood@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2023

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