The National Institutes of Health today unveiled a new online resource for older drivers and families seeking information on an often sensitive topic: Is it still safe to drive? Developed by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) at NIH and the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Older Drivers topic offers up-to-date information on how aging may affect driving, including physical changes, safety issues and ways older drivers can cope when driving skills change. The new topic is available at http://nihseniorhealth.gov/olderdrivers/howagingaffectsdriving/01.html.
"Driving is a complex task, requiring good vision and hearing, accurate speed-distance judgments and quick reaction times, among other skills," says NIA director Richard J. Hodes, M.D. "Age-related changes affecting some of these skills can make certain driving tasks especially hard for older drivers, which is why this new web resource is so important."
Age-related changes vary widely from one person to the next, and some people can continue to drive much longer than others. Still, for many older adults, making left turns, changing lanes and navigating through intersections can be challenging, and driving errors made during these times can lead to crashes, often with serious consequences.
"No matter how experienced the driver, getting older can limit an individual's reaction time in emergency situations. That's why it makes sense for older drivers to sharpen their skills and learn ways to help adjust for age-related changes in vision, hearing and response time," said David L. Strickland, NHTSA administrator. "Taking the necessary precautions to avoid potentially hazardous situations is one way older drivers can keep their independence -- and drive safely while doing it."
The new Older Drivers topic serves as an important online resource, with safety tips, recommendations about preferred travel lanes, braking and left turns. It also offers suggestions for adjusting driving habits when there are changes in hearing, vision and reaction times. Information about refresher courses, vehicle safety, regulations that affect older drivers and alternative means of transportation is also provided.
NIHSeniorHealth is a premier health and wellness website designed especially for older adults by NIA and the National Library of Medicine (NLM). In addition to information on driving, the site provides a comprehensive collection of research-based health information aimed at older adults that includes exercise and physical activity, safe use of medicines and management of diseases such as stroke, diabetes, osteoporosis and Alzheimer's.
NIHSeniorHealth also has senior-friendly features such as large print and opened-captioned videos to make the information on the site easy to see, understand and navigate. Recently redesigned for today's older adults, who have some experience using the Internet to search for health information, NIHSeniorHealth now features a search function that offers users easier access to senior-related health information on this and other government websites.
NIA leads the federal government effort conducting and supporting research on aging and the health and well-being of older people. The institute's broad scientific program seeks to understand the nature of aging and to extend the healthy, active years of life. For more information on research, aging and health, go to www.nia.nih.gov.
NLM is the world's largest library of the health sciences and collects, organizes and makes available biomedical science information to scientists, health professionals and the public. For more information, visit the website at http://www.nlm.nih.gov.
NHTSA, under the U.S. Department of Transportation, is dedicated to achieving the highest standards of excellence in motor vehicle and highway safety. NHTSA's mission is to save lives, prevent injuries and reduce economic costs due to road traffic crashes, through education, research, safety standards and enforcement activity. For more information About NHTSA, visit http://www.nhtsa.gov.
About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.
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