A Twist in the Driving DebateBy PAULA SPAN
I picked up a lot of thought-provoking tidbits at the American Geriatrics Society’s annual scientific meeting in Seattle this month, and I plan to pass some of them along. Herewith, my first report, focusing on a perennial New Old Age conundrum: seniors and driving.
The common perception, Dr. Richard Marottoli, a Yale geriatrician, told me in an interview, is that most older drivers eventually put away the car keys (or have them wrested away) — and that’s the end of it. In reality, as his new study shows, “there are stops and starts and sputters.”
Dr. Marottoli and his co-authors followed more than 600 older drivers in Connecticut, checking on them by phone every six months. They were mostly men (probably because many were approached through a Veterans Affairs health center), with an average age of almost 79, who drove an average of 129 miles weekly. In fact, more than 70 percent drove daily.
A series of tests showed that while most had multiple chronic conditions, “it’s a pretty active, healthy group,” Dr. Marottoli said.