Posted On: July 17, 2009 by Christopher T. Hurley

Helping the Elderly Keep Their Driving Skills

As a personal injury lawyer I am pleased to hear of new technology geared towards helping older people maintain safe driving skills. Although losing the freedom to drive is not something most of us like to consider, we all need to be prepared for the day that we can no longer drive safely. As the elderly population increases dramatically with the aging of the baby boomers, technology that may be able to help elderly people have the ability to drive safely longer is certainly intriguing. Consider the following story from the New York Times blog, Wheels (7/17, Mohn).

According to Census projections, “next year there will be 39 million Americans aged 65 or older…that number will jump to 69 million by 2030…by 2025, one-quarter [of the population] will be considered elderly.” Therefore, more elderly people will be on the roads potentially putting both themselves and other drivers at risk. Dr. Bella Dihn-Zarr, the North American Director of Make Roads Safe, a non-profit organization says “we all think we are excellent drivers even when we aren’t,” and as we age our reaction times, night vision, peripheral vision, concentration, and quick decision making skills can be slowed.

A new computer program, Drive Sharp, is designed to help elderly people drive more safely. The “brain fitness program” helps people “retrain their brains and delay the impact of aging.” Drive Sharp includes “two interactive exercises designed to improve focus, reaction time and memory, and increase visual processing speed and the ability to track multiple objects, like cars at a busy intersection.” According to some clinical studies, “when used properly, the program can help drivers see more, think faster and cut crash risk by up to 50 percent.”

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