Driving through the Golden Years...and Beyond!

Finding ways to help keep seniors safe and mobile is among the AAA Foundation's top research and education priorities. That's why we're initiating our largest-ever study of older drivers, in which we'll track several thousand seniors in various parts of the country over the course of many years. Along the way, this study will generate unique databases that will help us answer pressing questions about medical conditions, medication usage, travel habits, and mobility options for older Americans who can no longer drive.

For large scale, multiyear studies like this, it's always helpful to establish some baseline data and information about what is known at the outset. Therefore, we've just published an analysis of two existing national databases to get some insight into the medical conditions, medication usage, and travel patterns of today's older drivers. Our findings may surprise you.

First of all, older drivers are an active group. Over 75% of male drivers and 60% of female drivers over age 85 drive five or more days each week. Moreover, 84% of all Americans ages 65+ had a driver's license in 2010 (compared to barely half in the 1970s). In fact, every measure indicates increased automobility of older drivers: they take more trips, drive more miles, and spend more time driving now than they did 25 years ago.

Still, medical conditions and medication usage do appear to affect seniors' driving. Drivers 65-69 are twice as likely to report having a medical condition as drivers 24-64, and three-quarters of drivers 65+ who have a medical condition report reduced daily travel. Additionally, over 90% of senior drivers take prescription medications, and older drivers who do take medications avoid night driving at double the rate of drivers ages 24-64.

This report corroborates that seniors are among the nation's most responsible road users, and tend to self-regulate their driving. Still, many older Americans experience challenges that naturally accompany the aging process. To help, we offer Roadwise Rx, a free online tool that drivers can use to check the possible side effects and drug interactions of the medications they take which may affect safe driving ability. The results are personalized and confidential, and can serve as an excellent starting point for a conversation with your doctor.

As always, you can keep up to date on our ongoing senior safety study by visiting traffic-payout.org/current-projects. And, for detailed findings from this latest report, check out this fact sheet.