AARP Idaho Commends House Passage of Safe Driving Bill

Mar 03, 2011, 17:08 ET from AARP Idaho

AARP-Backed Bill Helps Elderly Drivers & Their Families Get the Facts, Explore Options Before Giving Up The Keys

BOISE, Idaho, March 3, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Hanging up the keys for good is never an easy reality to face for elderly Idahoans, and it's often one of the toughest conversations families will have – but Idaho lawmakers are looking to make it easier.  Today, the House passed House Bill 160 to help patients and their families have conversations with their doctors and explore alternatives on the sensitive issue.  The AARP-backed bill now heads to the Senate.

In Idaho, doctors who are concerned when patients pose a threat to their own safety or the public by continuing to drive can recommend to the Idaho Transp. Dept. (ITD) that the patient's driver's license be revoked.  House Bill 160 says that doctors should first notify the patient or their families regarding the concerns, helping to foster a conversation in a medical context, which can help explore options, such as changing prescriptions or limiting driving hours.  

"Driving is often an issue of independence for older Idahoans, and conversations about when it might be unsafe to continue to do so are never easy," said Jim Wordelman, State Director for AARP in Idaho. "House Bill 160 makes it easier for drivers and their families to get the facts and explore the options on this sensitive issue, prior to stopping driving.  AARP commends the Idaho House for passing this measure."

AARP supports encouraging physicians to voluntarily report patients who pose a threat on the roads due to a substantial impairment, yet have ignored the physician's advice to stop driving.  

The legislation also requires doctors to provide patients or their families with a copy of the report filed with ITD, helping to ensure that neither is blindsided by the move and have another opportunity to have a discussion about the concerns.  Doctors who make "good faith" reports are protected from liability under the bill.

Older adults have the lowest crash rate per licensed driver of all age groups.

AARP is Idaho's largest membership organization with 180,000 members.

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