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Oregon DMV Aims To Get Families Talking About Aging Drivers

Rachael McDonald

The Oregon DMV hopes families use the holidays to talk about issues facing older drivers.

The DMV has dubbed the first week of December as “Older Driver Safety Awareness Week.” It’s meant to be a time to think about the potential changes in driving skills as people get older.

December is a natural time to start the conversation, said Kristopher Kyes, the medical programs coordinator for the Oregon DMV. “We’re seeing family sometimes for the only time in a year. We’re dealing with shorter days and bad weather that impact seniors more than others," said Kyes. "It’s a good time for families to be thinking about it.”

Kyes said thereis a process for removing driving privileges from older adults, but he says that should only be used when there’s no other option. “Because driving is an important part of our lives, we want to help individuals keep that option when they can continue to do so safely," he said.

He said many aging drivers put down the keys on their own, especially after someone they care about brings up the topic. One way to help ease the transition is to help older adults become familiar with local public transportation options, especially if they have not been a frequent transit user before.

The Oregon DMV says there are several things to keep in mind when evaluating whether someone should continue to drive:

  • Chronological age is important in society but tells us very little about a person in isolation.
  • Whether it’s for your own safety or that of someone you love, it’s important to keep track of changes, including vision, medications, physical limitations and reaction time.
  • Anyone could find themselves unable to drive. Seizures, injuries and medical conditions can affect anyone at any age and may render some people unable to provide their own transportation.

The DMV is sponsoring an “Aging Road User Resource Fair” on Friday, December 6, from 10:30 a.m. - 1 p.m. at Salem’s Center 50+, 2615 Portland Rd. NE. Kyes said if the event is successful, the DMV hopes to hold similar events next year in Eugene and Portland.

Chris Lehman has been reporting on Oregon issues since 2006. He joined the KLCC news department in December 2018 and became News Director in March 2023. Chris was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and graduated from Temple University with a degree in journalism. His public broadcasting career includes stops in Louisiana and Illinois. Chris has filed for national programs including “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”