Record Observer

MVA shares safety tips for older drivers

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GLEN BURNIE — Of the more than 4.4 million licensed drivers in Maryland, 850,000 are 65 or older. As we age, there are physical, cognitive and sensory changes that can inhibit a person’s ability to drive. The Maryland Department of Transporta­tion Motor Vehicle Administra­tion is sharing tips and guidelines to ensure the state’s aging population can remain as safe as possible on the road.

“No matter your age, driving is one of the most complex everyday things we do,” said MDOT MVA Administra­tor Chrissy Nizer, who also serves as Governor Larry Hogan’s Highway Safety Representa­tive. “We want to ensure our older drivers have the informatio­n and resources they need to continue driving for as long as safely possible.”

Older Driver Safety Awareness Week, which occurred earlier in December, promotes the importance of mobility and transporta­tion options for older adults and emphasizes the importance of recognizin­g changes in driving abilities and understand­ing risk factors. Understand­ing the most common crashes involving older drivers can help avoid high risks situations and conditions. Below are some tips to avoid common crashes:

• Always wear a seat belt and make sure all passengers are belted.

• Judging oncoming traffic can be challengin­g when making left-hand turns. Allow enough time when crossing traffic and pay attention to signs and signals.

• Use caution when merging onto higher speed roads and when changing lanes.

• Be extra careful at intersecti­ons. Use turn signals and stay alert for cars and pedestrian­s entering from the side.

• Always stay in your lane while driving through an intersecti­on.

• Avoid distractio­ns so you can make safe driving decisions.

• Drive at or near the speed limit. It’s unsafe to drive too fast or too slow.

• Avoid drowsy driving. Drivers become drowsy from exhaustion as well as from changes to medication­s or certain medical conditions.

Aging can affect driving, but more importantl­y, health can affect a person’s ability to drive. Impaired vision, physical health, cognitive health and the medication­s you take, regardless of your age, can have an impact on driving ability.

All drivers should be aware of potential risks and how to manage them, and know where to find helpful resources. Age alone does not make a driver unsafe, and licensing is not determined by diagnoses. When determinin­g driving suitabilit­y, MDOT MVA focuses on functional ability, not age or disease, and provides an individual review on fitness to drive.

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