Keeping older drivers driving safely - Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists launch project to help older drivers stay mobile for as long as safely possible



    OTTAWA, Dec. 5 /CNW Telbec/ - The Canadian Association of Occupational
Therapists (CAOT) announced today the launch of the National Blueprint for the
Injury Prevention of Older Drivers project. Led by Dr. Nicol Korner-Bitensky
from McGill University and with support from the Public Health Agency of
Canada, this initiative will result in a strategy that will reduce driving
accidents that involve older drivers.
    Seniors are the fastest growing segment of the driving population and
driving is vital to their independence. Yet, older driver mortality and
morbidity is on the rise. The leading cause of accidental deaths for persons
65 to 75 years old in Canada today is driving-related accidents. More
specifically, individuals over 75 have a 3.5 times higher crash rate compared
to 35 to 44 year olds (Canada Safety Council, 2005). With the senior
population on the rise, it is projected that by 2040 there will be almost
double the number of older drivers in Canada.
    "We are thrilled that this project is addressing assessments and enhanced
safety for Canada's older drivers," said Dr. Nicol Korner-Bitensky, professor
at McGill University, Faculty of Medicine and project researcher. "It is
important to stress that this is not about taking away older drivers' freedom
to drive, but rather an emphasis on injury prevention and increased health and
well-being."
    In a recent survey that we conducted of physicians in Canada, over 40%
reported that they do not feel they are the most qualified professionals to
evaluate the fitness of an older driver, nor do they feel confident in their
ability to make an accurate assessment. Over 80% of respondents indicated that
education on evaluating older driver fitness would be beneficial.
    CAOT will be working with a variety of stakeholders including older
drivers and their families, health care professionals, driving evaluators, and
policy-makers to conduct their research and address health needs for older
drivers. The Older Driver Blueprint will focus on sustained action with the
ultimate aim of promoting safe driving and injury prevention among older
drivers and will include a vision, guiding principles, priority goals, and
identified directions for action.
    CAOT has chosen to launch this project during National Safe Driving Week
- an awareness initiative by the Canada Safety Council that focuses on safe
driving.

    About CAOT

    The Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists was founded in 1926
and is a national, non-profit professional organization. It strives to advance
excellence in occupational therapy practice and to promote access to quality
occupational therapy services for all people of Canada. CAOT, along with its
provincial and territorial affiliates, represents over 10,000 occupational
therapists and almost 1,100 students. For more information, visit www.caot.ca.

    The National Blueprint for Injury Prevention in Older Drivers has been
funded by the Population Health Fund of the Public Health Agency of Canada.
The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the views of the
Public Health Agency of Canada.




For further information:

For further information: Erica Lyle, Communications Coordinator,
Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists, (800) 434-2268, ext. 225,
communication@caot.ca

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Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists

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