Driving and community mobility
The majority of Canadians rely on the ability to drive as an important means of transportation and as a symbol of independence. As Canada’s population ages, safe driving strategies have heightened in importance especially as the leading cause of accidental deaths for persons 65 to 75 years old in Canada today is driving-related accidents. More specifically, individuals over 75 have a 3.5 times higher crash rate compared to those 35 to 44 years of age (Canada Safety Council, 2005).
While age alone does not determine a person’s ability to remain a safe driver, changes in the abilities of older drivers can make some activities more difficult and it is important to recognize how this can affect one’s ability to drive safely.
The Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists has identified driver safety as a priority and invests in the implementation of innovative projects and initiatives with the aim to reduce injury and so that all people may participate to their potential in the day to day activities that are most important to them. To this end, two driving initiatives are currently in place:
CarFit is an educational program that provides a quick, yet comprehensive review of how well a driver and their vehicle work together. The program also provides information and materials on community-specific resources that can enhance driving safety and increase mobility in the community.
CAOT, in partnership with Canadian Automobile Association (CAA), has worked to bring CarFit to Canada. The program was initially developed by American Automobile Association (AAA), AARP and the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA).
CarFit provides a dedicated stream of professional development opportunity, as a CarFit Technician or Event Coordinator. Occupational therapists who receive this training are encouraged to plan and hold a public CarFit event, to put their training into practice knowing that a proper fit in one’s car can greatly increase not only the driver's safety but also the safety of others.
The National Blueprint for Injury Prevention in Older Drivers
Outcomes from this important project include a series of informational brochures that will communicate the impact of normal aging and prevalent health conditions on safe driving and provide useful tips based on evidence regarding high-risk situations and risk-reducing strategies.
Additionally, OTs involved in driving rehabilitation and assessment services will benefit from best practice information regarding client recommendations.
Materials for your practice
Information to share with client - including information on safe driving, warning signs of unsafe driving and the downloadable materials.