Older Driver Awareness Week and Vision Loss

person driving with hands on wheel

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), along with the Clearing House for Older Road User Safety, has designated the week of December 6-10, 2021, as Older Driver Safety Awareness Week. According to the NHTSA, “Between 2010 and 2019, the U.S. population of people 65 and older increased by 34%, with the number of people 65 and older killed in traffic crashes (7,214) making up 20% of all traffic fatalities in 2019.” The Centers for Disease Control indicate that higher rates of traffic accident fatalities among older adults aged 70 and above occur due most often to their increased vulnerability to injury in a crash. Vision loss can put older driver more at risk.

List of Resources and Examples

NHTSA has pulled together a list of resources to help in addressing safety concerns for older drivers. The resource list includes Drive Well fact sheets about driving with the following medical conditions:

For example, the Drive Well sheet on driving with cataracts discusses how cataracts can make it more difficult to see streets and signage, lane markers, and individuals who are walking or biking. The sheet lists warning signs such as being bothered by glare, difficulty seeing at dawn, dusk, or night.

The Drive Well sheet on macular degeneration suggests that you should tell family members or friends if you notice warning signs such as blurry vision, inability to see road signs and pedestrians, needing more and brighter light for reading, or recognizing faces.

What to Do When an Eye Condition Affects Driving Safety

Seeing an eye care provider is always the first step if you are having vision changes.

Driving rehabilitation specialists can assess driving and offer training as well as adaptive low vision driver rehabilitation programs that provide specialized assessment and training for low vision drivers.

Be sure to check out the other medical condition sheets to find similar information about driving with those conditions and check the additional information below.

Transportation Resources

A first step is to call the National ElderCare Locator at 800-677-1116 and ask for your local Office on Aging. If you have a disability, check out Easter Seals Project ACTION at www.projectaction.org or call 800-659-6428.