We are all getting older. A commonplace and seemingly unremarkable fact. Nevertheless, what makes it a more interesting statement is the implications it has for the nation as a whole, as the baby boom ages. The largest demographic cohort has made its impression on the fabric of the U.S. from the building boom in public schools in the 1950s, through the tumultuous 60s, and they continue to influence many areas of life today.
As they age, one area where they will have a significant impact, literally, on everyone is with driving. Operating a motor vehicle requires a great many elements all working together. To avoid car accidents while driving, you need to be able to clearly see, grasp and quickly react to events as they unfold on the road in front of your vehicle.
For many of the elderly, and their adult children, the time is approaching when they may have to decide if driving is still a good idea. For some, a minor accident is the first warning.
And the loss of the ability to drive has profound consequences. It may force a change in the availability of public transport and the location of stores and health care facilities.
Many in the baby boom became the first generation to be transported by car as their parents moved to suburbs.
Now, when driving is no longer an option, those suburbs and developments where public transit is limited and nothing is within walking distance, may become less attractive to seniors.
And as anyone who drives in Honolulu traffic knows, urban sprawl is a problem even in Honolulu, hemmed in by mountains and the ocean.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has recommended a number changes as drivers age, from better safety technology in vehicles, to improving the collection of data and determining how to best help with driver behavior as drivers age.
Source: Claims Journal, “New Focus on Older Drivers,” Mike Urban, The Reading Eagle, January 10, 2014