Easy fixes can help seniors keep driving longer

CINCINNATI -- Ron Baldock is 70 years old and takes his truck for a spin every day. 

"I got used to driving a truck around because, when I worked, I was always in a pickup truck running from shop to shop," he said.

But how long should aging people continue to drive? It's a conversation that many people will eventually have with their parents. 

Experts say there are a lot of benefits to older drivers staying behind the wheel. Taking the keys too soon impedes their independence. That can lead to health issues, including things like depression and increased isolation, according to UC Health geriatric psychiatrist Dr. Michael Keys.

There are easy fixes that can make a senior feel safer, according to AAA. Those include steering wheel covers, portable handles for getting in and out, swivel seat pads and convex mirrors to reduce blind spots.

"They're safe drivers," Mike Belcuore of AAA Driving School said. "But also, as we age, their body gets more frail, so they're also more apt to get injured in their cars."

Nationally, 90 percent of seniors don't even use those sorts of items in their cars. The crash rate for Ohio seniors is 15 percent. 

Those kinds of items are fairly inexpensive. But, there still eventually comes a time when adult children have to have that talk with their parents. Keys said age doesn't determine who keeps driving. 

"It's a long conversation and it's not one that's easily resolved," he said.

For more information, visit AAA's senior driving website.

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