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Older drivers becoming safer behind the wheel in Massachusetts

Older drivers often get a bad rap for their driving skills. However, a new study says that older drivers in Massachusetts and throughout the country are actually some of the safest drivers on the road.

Driving can be complicated at any age, but many safety organizations say that older drivers may need to re-educate themselves on safe driving behaviors to reduce the risk of being in a car accident, and it appears that some may be doing just that. A new study found that many older drivers practice safe driving, with nine out of 10 older individuals wearing their seat belt and one-third have taken driver education courses to improve their driving.

The study by the American Automobile Association found that many older drivers have improved their driving skills in an effort to stay safe on the road. Researchers said that the study showed that older drivers are not as dangerous and risky behind the wheel as previously thought. These drivers are actually becoming safer behind the wheel because many are taking courses to improve their driving abilities.

More communities are offering training programs and education courses for elderly residents, and older people are taking advantage of these programs to help them keep their car keys. The programs not only assess a driver's skills and ability to drive, many also inspect the driver's vehicle and make adjustments to help the driver.

The most common issues for older drivers involve the settings in their vehicle, with the distance from the steering wheel, safe view from side mirrors, and wrong seat height and head restraint height being the most cited problems among older drivers. Many of these training programs address and fix these issues to help older drivers become safer while driving.

Researchers concluded that elderly drivers do not pose a bigger threat on the road. In fact, they have become some of the safest drivers in the U.S. However, it is important for older drivers to seek out training programs in their community to help resolve any potential issues while driving to keep everyone safe. 

Source: Atlantic Highlands Herald, "Older Motorists Practice Safe Driving, AAA Survey Says," May 2, 2013

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