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Beacon Senior News

Are you Fit to Drive?

Jul 06, 2017 10:00PM ● By Cloie Sandlin

The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) recently reported that drivers age 65 and older were an emerging trend in fatal crashes in 2016. Between 2012 and 2014, there were 640 drivers involved in a fatal crash. Among them, people age 65 and older represented 65 percent of drivers involved, 73 percent of drivers at fault for the fatal crash and 71 percent of drivers who sustained fatal injuries as a result of the crash.

The Fit to Drive campaign is a collaborative effort by Grand Valley Transit (GVT) in Mesa County, All Points Transit (APT) in Montrose and Road Runner Stage Lines in Durango to educate and encourage older adults to consider alternative transportation methods as their driving abilities decline with age.

“We’re trying to make drivers aware of their increased risk behind the wheel and to raise awareness of public transportation options that all people can use, but specifically aging adults,” said GVT Transportation Planner Elizabeth Collins.

The campaign, funded by the CDOT Safety Grant, consists of print and television advertising that directs audience members to www.fittodrive.org, where they can learn to recognize the signs that it’s time to limit or stop driving a personal automobile. They’ll also learn how they can stay mobile with public transportation.

“Many aging adults have never ridden a public bus because they’ve grown up with the personal automobile,” Collins said. “We’re really interested in seeing that demographic increase in our ridership and promoting the various discounts that transit agencies on the Western Slope have available for people age 65 years and older.”

The three agencies work together to make public transportation attractive to seniors by offering discounted passes and reduced rates during certain hours of the week.

“You can get all over the Western Slope of Colorado on public transit,” Collins said. “It’s not the same agency, but we try to make it seamless from community to community.”

Public transportation is easy and convenient for retired individuals and those with a more flexible schedule. It can cost less than maintaining a personal automobile, and is perfect for those who primarily travel around town or who are uncomfortable driving at night.

According to APT Mobility Manager TJ Burr, the campaign also provides a way for family members and caretakers to ease into the conversation about when it’s the time to give up the keys.

“There’s a large feeling that when you give up the keys, you’re giving up your independence,” Burr said. “We want to make folks aware that there are other options. You can still live at home and utilize our public bus system or our other services.”

For more information about riding with GVT, call 256-RIDE (7433) or visit gvt.mesacounty.us. To catch a ride in Montrose, Delta, Ouray and San Miguel counties, contact APT at 249-0128 or visit www.allpointstransit.com. For Road Runner Stage Lines in Durango, call 553-0389.