Statisticians are predicting a large increase in the population of seniors over the next few decades. In 2010, just under 117,000 Manitobans aged 65 years and older had a valid driver’s licence. In keeping with Statistics Canada population projections, this segment of drivers could rise to approximately 161,000 by 2021 and 226,000 by 2036.
To better serve this growing customer base, Manitoba Public Insurance sponsors the Mature Driver Workshop, organized by Safety Services Manitoba. This half-day workshop provides a refresher for older drivers by updating them on traffic laws, signs and signals markings and offers them practical advice on how to compensate for the physical effects of aging. Participants receive a copy of the Driver’s Handbook, which contains a general guide for everyone on safe driving and the rules of the road in Manitoba. The classroom workshop may be followed by an optional drive with an instructor, who will observe and provide comments on the participant’s driving. For more information on the Mature Driver Workshop, contact Safety Services Manitoba at 204-949-1085.
Older drivers may consult The Older and Wiser Driver, an online resource managed by Manitoba Public Insurance and the Government of Manitoba. This resource provides a confidential self-rating form for mature drivers, tips for a variety of driving situations (including city driving, highway driving, parking lots and night driving), and advice on transportation options and other resources. Drivers of all ages are also encouraged to test and reinforce their knowledge of the rules of the road by trying our online Driving Quizzes.
Manitoba Public Insurance also recommends the Changing Seats community presentation organized by the Transportation Options Network for Seniors (TONS). This Manitoba Public Insurance supported presentation highlights the challenges faced by older adults when making the decision to transition away from driving, adaptations that can be made to continue driving and the options available as alternatives to driving.
Research has shown that the skills needed for safe driving – vision, reflexes, flexibility and hearing – begin to deteriorate around age 55 with an even greater loss after age 75. Aging drivers can adjust their driving habits to cope with this decline. In order for our senior citizens to remain safe on the roads, we encourage them to observe the following safety tips:
- Get regular eye checks to keep vision as sharp as possible.
- See the doctor regularly and find out as much information as possible about the effects of medication on one’s ability to drive and function. It is recommended that driving should be avoided after using a new medication.
- Never drive when tired or drowsy.
- Make adjustments to driving patterns to avoid heavy traffic and busy intersections.
- Wear appropriate prescription glasses and avoid tinted glasses for night driving.
- Wear seatbelts at all times.
- Drive less in bad weather.
- Join a car pool.
- Explore the benefits of the public transportation system.
- Drive less at night.
- Build a support network of family and friends to help out.
Unfortunately, the ability to drive safely can be negatively affected by a variety of factors beyond a person’s control, such as medical conditions associated with the aging process. These medical conditions may place drivers and others at risk on the road. Changes in health or physical condition that are likely to affect driving should be reported to Manitoba Public Insurance’s Medical Compliance and Assessments department. They are responsible for assessing drivers’ medical fitness to drive safely.
- Safety Services Manitoba
- Manitoba Seniors and Healthy Aging Secretariat
- Seniors’ Community Groups
- Transportation Options Network for Seniors (TONS)