Do you ever stop and think that you might be taking driving for granted? Well, it's a sad reality for many people as they face getting older, especially when it comes to traffic fatalities.
Both doctors and MoDOT say that the youngest and the oldest drivers are at risk.
Hannibal Clinic's Dr. Jeffry Evans says it can be tough to let go of the independence, but sometimes it must be done.
Evans also says that while many drivers will face a time when they do need to let go of the wheel, not all drivers will.
"There are some people that are certainly capable drivers well into their advanced years so you have to take this on a case-by-case basis. There's a lot of health problems. Deteriorating vision, cataracts, loss of night vision," said Evans.
In a trial partnership to keep the elderly and other drivers safe, - something they call "Arrive Alive After 65" - MoDOT has teamed up with the Missouri coalition of Roadway Safety made up of Missouri State Highway Patrol, University of Missouri Hospital, and several other agencies to help those over 65 prepare for that day in their future - if it comes - when they may find themselves giving up the keys.
MoDOT assistant district engineer Kevin James says the program is in its trial stages and trains doctors - right now just in Columbia - to watch out for signs that a person may not be fit for driving anymore.
"They are over represented in crash statistics and we're trying to look at why and how we can improve on some of those statistics so we don't have the injuries and fatalities in our state that we see with those trends," said James.
Both James and Evans say the youngest and oldest drivers fall victim more than anyone else to fatal crashes.
So what can you do if you're concerned about an aging loved one behind the wheel?
"Just address it directly with the person," said Evans. "People are still capable of making good decisions for themselves. But I'll try to talk with those folks to say, 'hey listen, you've noticed you've had some problems driving. I really think you should submit to a written and skills driving test."
Dr. Evans says people generally take a conversation like that better than you would expect and he says it's worked for him time and time again.
James says if the program appears to work, it could very well be expanded to the rest of the state.
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