As the baby boomer generation increases in age, the number of elderly drivers on the road will rise dramatically. The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles reported that motorists over the age of 65 will increase by 60 percent by 2016.
Programs are available to help keep this increasing number of seniors mobile and educate them about safety as they age. In New York State, the Department of Motor Vehicles operates a unique service known as the Office of the Older Driver that offers education, information and referral materials to aging drivers.
This Office is committed to offering a selection of the best available educational and referral materials to older drivers and, importantly, to deliver these services in a supportive manner.
Among the many services offered is an assessment of the senior’s driving skills. It includes a physical evaluation of vision, reaction times, and “cognitive ability” as well as an overall driving evaluation. Upon completion of the assessment, the Office for the Older Driver can recommend a driver rehabilitation specialist who can help if the senior needs to improve their driving skills.
Occupational therapists are normally the rehabilitation specialists who conduct driver rehabilitation evaluations. The primary purpose of occupational therapy is to help the person remain independent. However, an evaluation may determine that a person needs to stop driving. In these cases, the occupational therapist can help the person and their family to find transportation other than driving.
In addition, the Office for the Older Driver also works closely with CarFit, an AARP and AAA sponsored program, to help elderly drivers determine if their vehicle is a appropriate for them. In the past, CarFit has found that more than one-third of elderly drivers have at least one important safety issue in their vehicle that needs correction. Very often, something as simple as adjusting the position of the seat or alignment of the steering wheel can increase a driver’s safety.
The website also provides forms that are commonly needed by the senior driver – such as the MV-80 Physicians Statement, MV-619 Eye Test Report and MV-232 Change of Address. The website also offers information about health issues that may directly impair driving abilities, such as cataracts, dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
For more information, visit the Office of the Older Driver at http://dmv.ny.gov/older-driver/older-driver-resources