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Older Emergency Department Drivers: Patterns, Behaviors, and Willingness to Enroll in a Safe Driver Program

Creative Commons 'BY-NC' version 4.0 license

Objective: Our objective was to assess the reported driving patterns of older emergency department (ED) drivers and the factors that might lead them to enroll in a safe driving program.

Methods: We conducted a prospective, cross-sectional survey of a convenience sample of ED patients 65-years-old and up regarding their driving patterns, behaviors and willingness to enroll in a safe driving program.

Results: We surveyed 138 patients. Most (73%) reported driving within the last year, and 88% of these believe they could not manage without driving. Eleven percent of ED older drivers have been in a motor vehicle crash (MVC) in the past year (95% CI 6-20%), compared to 2.5% of all seniors. Our survey findings suggest that 88% of older ED drivers avoid at least some high-risk driving situations and 65% are unwilling to enroll in a safe driver program unless it lowers their automobile insurance rates. At the same time, most older ED drivers underestimate their risk of being involved in (75%) or dying from (74%) a MVC.

Conclusion: Overall, there are a significant number of older people for whom driving remains a vital yet risky daily function. Most of these drivers have little interest in information regarding safe driving programs while in the ED. Those willing to learn about such programs would prefer to take home the information regarding the program rather than have any staff member discuss it while in the ED. [West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(1):51-55.]

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