Survey suggests refresher courses for older drivers
Published Thursday, February 26, 2009 4:36PM EST
A new survey suggests there needs to be a national approach to help keep older drivers safe, and on the roads.
Although there are driver refresher courses available for older motorists, a study conducted for the Occupational Therapists Association says there needs to be a national blueprint to help seniors sharpen their skills.
As drivers get older, their ability to process the information needed to drive can slow down. Some may even have physical restrictions that hinder them from turning slightly to do a shoulder check.
"It's not so much our vision that's a problem as we get older, it's our ability to scan our environment quickly and pick up the important cues, the visual clues. And again, we know that there's very nice research that suggests we can retrain those visual skills," said chief researcher Dr. Nicol Korner-Bitensky.
But the situation is not the same for all older drivers. Barbara Anne Pennie has been driving for 65 years and she says she's never had a problem on the roads.
"I'm confident, that's all. I've never had anything bad happen. Nobody's started to honk at me yet. They say that's when you know you're not doing the right thing," Pennie told CTV Ottawa.
Still, occupational therapists say sharpening skills behind the wheel is something all drivers should do.
"It is good to do a refresher course so that you keep your skills sharp, sharpen them. We do know that we can retrain reaction times, retrain visual scanning to do it quickly and correctly," said occupational therapist Susan Sofer.
Back on the road, Pennie says being able to drive gives her a sense of independence. However, she says there's at least one thing older drivers can get better at.
"Yes, not to be too slow. I find that older drivers are too slow."
With a report from CTV Ottawa's Norman Fetterley