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Keeping older drivers safe

October 29, 2017

Older drivers bring knowledge and experience to the workplace. By 2020, 25 percent of workers in the United States will be 55 or older. But this group is not without risk. According to NIOSH, motor vehicle crashes account for 32 percent of all work-related deaths among workers 55 or older.

Although not everyone ages the same way, an older worker’s ability to drive may be affected by a number of factors related to aging, including declining eyesight and hearing; arthritis, which can make gripping the steering wheel difficult; and decreased motor skills, memory and the ability to make quick decisions.

NIOSH urges older workers to speak to their supervisors if they are experiencing driving issues to discuss alternatives to driving, such as attending meetings via phone or video conference or changing work schedules to drive during less busy times.

Also, NIOSH recommends employers reduce the amount of driving older workers do and “set policies that allow drivers to consult with their supervisors to adjust driving hours if they have trouble seeing at night, and to stop driving if they are too tired or the weather is bad.”

As with all age groups, older employees can help keep themselves and other motorists safe by following safe driving practices, including not driving under the influence of drugs, alcohol or prescription medications; always wearing seat belts; not driving distracted; and maintaining good health by exercising regularly, eating healthy foods and getting annual health screenings.

Employers can help promote safe driving habits by creating clear policies about driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol, promoting worker health through workplace wellness programs and activities, and requiring workers to take driver training.