National Safety Month and ChORUS
June is National Safety Month, an initiative created by the National Safety Council to highlight the leading causes of preventable injury and death so people can live their fullest lives. This year, the National Safety Council identified emergency preparedness, slips, trips and falls, heat-related illness, and hazard recognition as the 2023 weekly topics. All these topics can have a positive impact on older driver safety when coupled with resources from ChORUS.
• Emergency Preparedness
Emergency preparedness can take many forms, including preventing emergencies by planning for when safe driving is no longer an option and learning to avoid crashes and collisions by working with a driver rehabilitation specialist to learn how to drive defensively.
If unpredictable weather occurs, an older driver can avoid an emergency by being prepared and learning tips on how to drive in unpredictable weather.
• Slips, Trips, and Falls
In 2020, emergency departments recorded 3 million visits for older adult falls.1 Slips, trips, and falls can be dangerous for anyone, especially an older adult. As an older adult, falls can reduce your ability to remain independent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC compiled a compendium of effective fall interventions, including exercise, home modifications, clinical, and multifaceted interventions.2
• Heat-Related Illness
Heat syncope, heat cramps, heat edema, heat rash, and heat exhaustion are all examples of heat-related illness, says National Institute on Aging.3 Heat-related illness is more dangerous for older adults than it is for younger people because aging can cause difficulty in the body’s ability to regulate its temperature. To lower your risk of heat-related illness during the hot months while driving, drink plenty of liquids, and keep your car cool with air-conditioning or opening your windows. You can also try a different mode of transportation such as a local bus or ask a friend to drive you. Make sure when you are waiting for a bus you dress in lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
If you need help getting to a cooler place, such as a senior center or a movie theater, use the My State Info page on the ChORUS website to find resources in your area.
• Hazard Recognition
Hazard Recognition for older drivers is key to road safety. Noticing and avoiding potholes and other road hazards, checking the blind spot, and noticing impending bad weather are all important factors in hazard recognition.
As part of hazard recognition, keep an extra eye out for work zones. On average, there are over 700 fatalities that occur at work zones each year. Some distractions drivers, including older drivers, should avoid while passing a work zone include avoiding eating, drinking, and using the GPS or the radio. Research your route before you go, slow down when passing work zones, and keep your distance when passing work zones.4 Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has more work zone safety tips and shareable graphics that can be found on their website.
In order to solidify that an older driver is able to recognize and avoid hazards, use the ChORUS medical conditions and safe road use guide to identify any physical and cognitive problems.
National Safety Month is only a catalyst for older driver safety. To continue encouraging safety year-round, use ChORUS resources including the Older Driver Transportation Planning Tool. The tool is easy and quick to complete, taking around 2 or 3 minutes. At the end of the quiz, the older driver will receive a list of personalized resources from ChORUS designed to promote traffic safety.