National Blueprint aims to reduce injury and death of older drivers



    OTTAWA, Feb. 25 /CNW Telbec/ - Today the Canadian Association of
Occupational Therapists (CAOT), along with McGill University launched the
<a href="http://www.caot.ca/default.asp?pageid=2190">National Blueprint for Injury Prevention in Older Drivers</a>
(http://www.caot.ca/default.asp?pageid=2190).
    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 death for persons 65
to 75 years old in Canada today is driving-related crashes.
    Research has also revealed that the risk of motor vehicle crashes
increases even further when the driver is over 75 years old. In fact, a driver
over the age of 75 is 3.5 times more likely to be involved in a crash per mile
driven than a 35 - 40 year old driver (Canada Safety Council, 2005). This
trend need not continue.
    "We are thrilled that this project is focused on enhanced safety for
Canada's older drivers," said Dr. Nicol Korner-Bitensky, professor at McGill
University, Faculty of Medicine and project lead. "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 through a
proactive, 'stay sharp' approach to driving".
    As a first step in reducing injuries and deaths among older drivers CAOT
has joined with McGill University with financial support from the Public
Health Agency of Canada to develop the National Blueprint for Injury
Prevention in Older Drivers.
    "It has long been believed that the older driver is actually the safest
driver on the road. However, the road accident data proves differently,"
explains Dr. Claudia von Zweck, Executive Director of CAOT.
    The Older Drivers Blueprint will be used by older drivers, occupational
therapists, physicians and other healthcare professionals, national and local
senior's agencies, community groups, transportation departments, insurance and
automobile industries, traffic safety professionals and policy makers at all
levels of government as a strategy to reduce crashes among older drivers.
    "The goal of the Older Drivers Blueprint is to identify and encourage a
comprehensive strategy that enhances the capacity of older adults to maintain
their fitness to drive for as long as possible thus enabling them to
participate in the activities that bring meaning and purpose to their lives,"
says Dr. Nicol Korner-Bitensky, Ph.D., OT(C), McGill University and Principal
Investigator for the Older Drivers Blueprint. "Older adults we interviewed
across the nation from Victoria to Fredericton tell us that driving is
important not only for their own independence but for the many family members
and friends they help out by volunteering to drive those who cannot drive."
    Over the next 30 years the number of older drivers will nearly double,
making the need for action on the issue of driver safety even greater.
    "The demographic shift occurring over the coming decades underscores the
importance of action today. The Older Drivers Blueprint is an important step
in setting realistic goals for immediate actions that will save lives now,"
notes Dr. Claudia von Zweck.
    To access the Older Drivers Blueprint visit www.caot.ca/driving or
www.mcgilll.ca/spot/ot/driving.

    About the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT)
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    CAOT is the national non-profit professional organization that represents
more than 12,000 occupational therapists. As a professional group occupational
therapists are concerned with promoting health and well-being through
occupation, in the workplace at home and recreation. For more information on
occupational therapy or to download the Older Driver Blueprint, visit
www.caot.ca. To find an occupational therapist in your community, visit
www.otworks.ca and click on OT Finder.

    About McGill University
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    McGill University, founded in Montreal, Quebec, in 1821, is Canada's
leading post-secondary institution. It has two campuses, 11 faculties, 10
professional schools, 300 programs of study and more than 34,000 students.
McGill attracts students from more than 160 countries around the world. Almost
half of McGill students claim a first language other than English - including
6,000 francophones - with more than 6,200 international students making up
almost 20 per cent of the student body. For more information about McGill
University, visit www.mcgill.ca.

    About the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC)
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The creation of the PHAC marks the beginning of a new approach to federal
leadership and collaboration with provinces and territories on efforts to
renew the public health system in Canada and support a sustainable health care
system. PHAC works closely with provinces and territories to keep Canadians
healthy and help reduce pressures on the health care system. For more
information about PHAC, visit www.phac-aspc.gc.ca.


    Backgrounder
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In 2007-08 the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), through the
Population Health Fund's mandate to foster community capacity for action on or
across the determinants of health, collaborated with the Canadian Association
of Occupational Therapists (CAOT) and Dr. Nicol Korner-Bitensky of McGill
University to fund and develop the <a href="http://www.caot.ca/default.asp?pageid=2190">National Blueprint for Injury Prevention in
Older Drivers (Older Drivers
Blueprint)</a>(http://www.caot.ca/default.asp?pageid=2190).
    Current statistics indicate that older driver mortality and morbidity is
on the rise, and thus, older driver safety is of great concern. Collision data
from the past decade debunks the belief that older drivers are the safest and
most cautious drivers on the road. In fact, the leading cause of accidental
deaths for Canadian persons 65 to 75 years old is driving-related. For drivers
75 years and older there is a 3.5 times higher crash rate per miles driven
compared to 35 to 44 year olds. By the year 2040 there will be almost double
the number of older drivers in Canada.
    Equipped with statistical and scientific evidence for Canadian older
driver safety, the project team then consulted with a National Advisory
Committee of individuals representing stakeholders in older driver safety.
Each Advisory Committee member was invited based on their expertise or
stakeholder representation for driving matters. Teleconferences, face-to-face
meetings and email discussions were used to bring the team together to develop
the Older Drivers Blueprint. The project team collaborated with established
networks of individuals and organizations interested in older driver safety
thereby building on existing knowledge and practices. A national perspective
was attained by soliciting input and participation from four PHAC defined
regions across Canada. Regions included both urban and rural populations with
English and French speaking Canadians. Focus groups with senior drivers across
the nation were conducted to identify their perceived need for refresher
programs, structure and acceptable content. As further support, a national
survey with stakeholder groups sought to identify existing Canadian senior
driver refresher programs, structure, facilitators and barriers.
    As a result of the in-depth research conducted for the project, the Older
Drivers Blueprint was drafted. It is an important and innovative initiative
that aims to enhance the capacity of older adults to maintain their ability
and fitness to drive safely for as long as possible; and maintain their
engagement in the occupations which give meaning and purpose to their lives.
The term 'Blueprint' was selected as it denotes an active strategy requiring
collaboration and a common goal. The Older Drivers Blueprint document contains
a five part framework including, Background, Vision, Guiding Principles,
Priority Goals, and Directions for Advisory. The strategy is driven by a
focused vision statement: Older Adults in Canada will utilize driving
practices that prevent injury and promote health, well-being and public
safety. Driving is a privilege, but mobility is a right.


    /NOTE TO PHOTO EDITORS: A photo accompanying this release is available on
    the CNW Photo Network and archived at http://photos.newswire.ca.
    Additional archived images are also available on the CNW Photo Archive
    website at http://photos.newswire.ca. Images are free to accredited
    members of the media/




For further information:

For further information: Karen Bennett, Senior Consultant, Delta Media,
(613) 233-9191, karen@deltamedia.ca, www.caot.ca


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