Program Helps Keep Florida's Older Drivers Safe
Anymore it seems that our newspaper headlines, television reports and internet stories are populated (on almost a daily basis!) with headlines related to older driver tragedies.
Keeping Us Safe, a national organization headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, has developed a program specifically designed to prevent such tragedies.
The program, titled “Beyond Driving with Dignity”, is a self-assessment program designed to help older drivers and their families make appropriate driving decisions in response to age-related diminishing driving skills.
Matt Gurwell, a retired Ohio State Trooper and founder of Keeping Us Safe, explains that “The primary purpose of the self-assessment program for older drivers is designed to save lives.”
The 3-hour session, individualized sessions include an in-depth interview with the older driver, input from concerned family members, several cognitively-based screening tools, a review of one’s medical history and an actual on-road driving exercise.
The session takes place in the older driver’s home, typically at the individual’s kitchen table, where they are most comfortable. The sessions are conducted by one of Keeping Us Safe’s Certified “Beyond Driving with Dignity” Professionals currently deployed through-out the United States and Canada.
Gurwell adds that “The “Beyond Driving with Dignity” Professional Certification program was developed to arm qualifying professionals with the tools necessary to help older drivers and their families work through the complicated issue of age-related diminishing driving skills.”
In addition, Keeping Us Safe offers the nationally-recognized “Beyond Driving with Dignity; The workbook for the families of older drivers”.
The workbook was designed to help concerned families by providing them with a “roadmap to success” in their quest to overcome the challenges of an older driver’s diminished driving skills.
Gurwell explains that “Both the self-assessment program and the workbook are designed to keep our highways and communities safer places to live, work and recreate.
The Beyond Driving with Dignity programs are also designed to help the older driver maintain their independence and dignity as they transition into a driving retirement.”
The goal of the program is not to “take” away the keys of older drivers, in fact, Gurwell explains that the self-assessment program is designed to bring awareness to the older driver of any age-related diminishment in his or her driving skills. If appropriate, strategies are developed to make adjustments in the individual’s driving routine to help keep them driving safer, for longer.
In the event that the individual’s skills have diminished to
the point that a retirement from driving is appropriate, then the program is designed to help the individual make a smooth transition from the driver’s seat to the passenger seat, all the while helping him or her maintain their dignity,
personal pride and most of all, their independence.
When asked what the turning point was for starting Keeping Us Safe, Gurwell explains:
"There was never one particular event. It was the result of 20-plus years of holding dying people in my arms at terrible car accidents, and delivering dozens and dozens of death notifications to families. I would much rather work with families bringing a peaceful resolve to this sensitive and uncomfortable issue now, rather than have them deal with it when a State Trooper is knocking on their front door".
To learn more about becoming a Certified “Beyond Driving with Dignity” Professional or to schedule a self-assessment for your loved one, visit Keeping Us Safe at http://www.keepingussafe.org, or telephone 877-907-8841.
- Florida officials estimate that by 2030, one in four Florida drivers will be 65 or older
- In 2010, Florida had the most drivers age 65 and older killed in traffic accidents
- 75% of people who die in crashes involving elderly drivers are either an elderly passenger or driver themselves
- Compared with middle-aged drivers, those 75 and older have higher fatality rates per mile traveled