How to talk to elderly drivers about driving safely as you age

June 8, 2015 – KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Do you have a loved one you feel should not be driving — but are having difficulty getting them to stop?

A Johnson County woman said she knows from her own painful experience the importance of elder driving safety.

“He was basically beside her car, and he crashed into her car, flew over her hood, landed on her driveway, and she proceeded with the turn into her driveway and she pinned him underneath the front part of her car,” says Susan Cohen, who remembers February 26th, 2011, all too vividly.

They were living in Maryland, and her son, Nathan Krasnopoler, a sophomore at Johns Hopkins was riding his bike home from the farmers market when an 83-year-old woman hit him.

Cohen says this woman did not call 911 or ask for help.

“She got out of the car, left it running and sat down on a wall outside of her building,” Cohen says. “We don`t know how long he was under her car without assistance, but it must have been a while because he ultimately lost all of his brain cells.”

Cohen says luckily a passerby stopped, turned off the woman’s car and called 911.

Nathan was taken to the hospital — where he remained for five months. He suffered two collapsed lungs and was in a vegetative state. Doctors told the family that Nathan would never recover.

“That accident, everything about it, demonstrated how unable this society is to deal with older adult drivers that don`t really have the ability to drive safely,” Cohen adds.

Kristin Nichols, a Certified Driving Rehab Specialist with Shawnee Mission Medical Center, evaluates people with medical conditions that might affect their ability to safely drive.

“It can help to give them the information that maybe they need to accept some of the changes that have occurred,” Nichols says.

She says since we’re living longer, people are driving well beyond when they should.

“The research is suggesting that we are outliving our driving age by 7 to 10 years,” adds Nichols.

Cohen says the research changed her life completely. She stopped practicing law, moved to Kansas and now runs a non-profit program called Americans For Older Driver Safety.

“It was really an eye opening experience to learn how the states don`t really check to make sure that drivers are capable of driving safely, that they have the functionality necessary to drive safely before renew a license,” Cohen says.

Cohen will be speaking at the Older Adult Driving Expo Wednesday, June 3rd, from 8:30 and 12:30 at KU Edwards Campus.

You can learn about driving safely as you age, downsizing your driving and preparing for driving retirement.


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