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Study says more older Americans on the roads

Published 6:55 pm, Tuesday, May 20, 2014
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Compared to previous generations, older Americans are spending more time behind the wheel, a new AAA study reports.

According to an AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study, one in six drivers on U.S. roads is 65 years of age and older.

The study, "Understanding Older Drivers: An Examination of Medical Conditions, Medication Use and Travel Behaviors," also reports that in 2010, 84 percent of American drivers over 65 held a driver's license, compared to barely half in the early 1970s.

The new research also shows an increased "auto-mobility" of older drivers, whose travel miles increased 33 percent over the last decade. At the same time, however, 90 percent of older drivers use prescription medications that can result in an impairment of safe driving abilities. Although this raises a concern among traffic safety experts, mature drivers generally are more cautious on the road than their younger counterparts. That's because they're more likely to self-regulate their driving by reducing daily travel, avoiding night driving or driving fewer days each week, the study says.

Knowing that medication use is very high among senior drivers, AAA has developed confidential, educational tools, such as Roadwise Rx, to help older drivers and their families understand common side effects of prescription and over-the-counter medications, herbal supplements and foods.

Additional key highlights from the report include:

25 percent of men and 18 percent of women remain in the workforce after age 65. This results in more than double the work-related commutes for drivers 65 and older compared to 20 years ago;

68 percent of drivers 85 or older report driving five or more days per week;

three-quarters of drivers ages 65 and older with a medical condition report they've reduced their daily driving;

the richer your area, the less likely you'll self-regulate your behavior. For example, female drivers between 65 and 69, with an annual income under $13,000 were 62 percent more likely to restrict their nighttime driving than women with incomes over $70,000.

For information, visit www.seniordriving.aaa.com.