Driving is an occupation that allows individuals to get from point A to point B. It also allows individuals the freedom to go where they please without the assistance of others. However, as people age driving can become more difficult. Street signs may not be as visible as they once were and reflexes may be slower. In order to help meet these difficulties occupational therapists have been studying the limitations that are interfering with a patient's optimal driving performance.
According to an article published in the American Journal of Occupational Therapy, many therapists believe that larger fonts on street signs, especially warning signs, can be very helpful to the elderly driving population. This will allow them to see the street signs from farther away and gives them more time to react appropriately. Therapists also suggest better reflective signs that can be seen during the night can be helpful to the elderly driving population.
Although this research included many great suggestions on how to improve roadways for the elderly, these changes can be costly and restructuring current roadways and signs is unlikely. With many baby boomers; however, quickly approaching older adulthood it is important that these suggestions be taken into consideration. Occupational therapists can help by influencing the making of new roadways with these modifications. Along with these street modifications, the article suggests that occupational therapists must also come up with their own modifications for their clients to drive safely in the current state of roadways. Perhaps new tools and services will arise out of this growing need. However, in order for this to occur more research needs to be done on exactly how aging affects ones ability to drive.
Bohr, C. P. (2008). Critical review and analysis of the impact of the physical infrastructure on the driving ability, performance, and safety of older adults. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 62, 159-172.