Study links safety and mobility by preventing falls
A study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety suggests that seniors and their families should view falls as a possible early indicator of risk behind the wheel.
According to the research, older drivers with a history of falling are 40 percent more likely to be involved in crashes than their peers.
“Drivers age 60 and older are involved in more than 400,000 crashes each year, and it’s important that we find ways to keep them and others safe on the road,” said Nick Jarmusz, director of public affairs for AAA Wisconsin. “This research is critical because it shows that falls prevention initiatives like Stepping On can help identify and reduce the risk for a crash.”
Falls can increase crash risk by causing injuries such as wrist fractures or broken legs that can make it difficult for older drivers to steer or brake to avoid a crash. They can also increase an individual’s fear of falling, which can lead to a decrease in physical activity that weakens driving skills. Stepping On is a scientifically-researched prevention program proven to reduce the incidence of falls among participants by 31%.
“Falls are a big problem everywhere, but especially in Wisconsin,” said Betsy Abramson, executive director of WIHA. “We rank second in fall-related deaths in the U.S. – more than twice the national rate. Building awareness of the impact of falls and engaging older adults in an intervention like Stepping On, can ultimately decrease falls and car crashes amongst older adults in Wisconsin.”
Stepping On workshops are offered by various health care and local aging service providers such as aging offices and Aging & Disability Resource Centers (ADRCs) throughout the state, administered by WIHA. Since 2007, over 15,000 older adults in Wisconsin have participated in the program.