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AMA Releases New Older Driver Safety Guide

Motor vehicle injuries a leading cause of injury-related deaths in seniors

For immediate release:
March 15, 2010

CHICAGO – To help protect the lives of older drivers and make our roads safer, the American Medical Association (AMA) today released a new Physician's Guide to Assessing and Counseling Older Drivers. Motor vehicle injuries are a leading cause of injury-related deaths in adults over 65. The fatality rate for drivers 85 years and older is nine times higher than the rate for drivers 25 to 69 years old.

“For many, a driver's license symbolizes independence and the decision to retire from driving can have both practical and emotional implications on a patient’s life,” said AMA President-elect Cecil B. Wilson, M.D. “Physicians play an important role in the safe mobility of their older patients, and we encourage them to make driver safety a routine part of office visits for their senior patients.”

The AMA’s guide can help physicians address the driving safety of their older patients and better understand the public health issues involved. Topics covered in the guide include screening, assessing functional abilities, handling evaluations and referrals, conditions and medications that may impact driving, addressing safer driving, and counseling those who are no longer able to drive. A section with worksheets and resources for older patients and caregivers is also included.

Older drivers have a higher risk of traffic fatalities for two reasons: Drivers age 75 and older are involved in significantly more motor vehicle crashes per mile driven, and older drivers are considerably more fragile and more likely to suffer a fatal injury in the event of a crash than their younger counterparts.

The Physician's Guide to Assessing and Counseling Older Drivers was developed by the AMA in cooperation with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The guide is currently available online at www.ama-assn.org/go/olderdrivers, and physicians can order a free hard copy to be available in four-six weeks. Later this year, a Continuing Medical Education course for physicians will be offered on the AMA’s Web site.

Video samples of how the issue impacts physicians and patients are available here:

Video Sample 1

Video Sample 2

Video Sample 3

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For more information, please contact:

Leah Dudowicz
Public Information Officer
AMA Media Relations
(312) 464-4813