Anymore it seems that our newspaper headlines, television reports and internet stories are populated (on almost a daily basis!) with headlines related to older driver tragedies.
Keeping Us Safe has developed a program specifically designed to prevent such tragedies in the country’s third most populous state, Florida. The program, titled “Beyond Driving with Dignity”, is a self-assessment program designed to help older drivers and their families make appropriate driving decisions in response to age-related diminishing driving skills.
Matt Gurwell, a retired Ohio State Trooper and founder of Keeping Us Safe, explains that “The
primary purpose of the self-assessment program for older drivers is to save lives.”
The 3-hour individualized sessions include an in-depth learning conversation with the older driver,
input from concerned family members, several cognitively-based screening tools, a review of one’s
medical history and an actual on-road driving exercise.
The session takes place in the older driver’s home, typically at the individual’s kitchen table, where they are most comfortable. The sessions are conducted by one of Keeping Us Safe’s Certified “Beyond Driving with Dignity” Professionals currently deployed through-out the United States.
Gurwell adds that “The “Beyond Driving with Dignity” Professional Certification program was developed to arm qualifying professionals with the tools necessary to help older drivers and their families work through the complicated issue of age-related diminishing driving skills.”
In addition, Keeping Us Safe offers the nationally-recognized “Beyond Driving with Dignity; The workbook for the families of older drivers”. The workbook was designed to help concerned families by providing them with a “roadmap to success” in their quest to overcome the challenges of an older driver’s diminished driving skills. Gurwell explains that “Both the self-assessment program and the workbook are designed to keep our highways and communities safer places to live, work and recreate. The ‘Beyond Driving with Dignity’ program is also designed to help the older driver maintain their independence and dignity as they transition into a driving retirement.”
The goal of the program is not to “take” away the keys of older drivers, in fact, Gurwell explains that the self-assessment program is designed to bring awareness to the older driver of any age-related diminishment in his or her driving skills. If appropriate, strategies are developed to make adjustments in the individual’s driving routine to help keep them driving safer, for longer.
In the event that the individual’s skills have diminished to the point that a retirement from driving is appropriate, then the program is designed to help the individual make a smooth transition from the driver’s seat to the passenger seat, all the while helping him or her maintain their dignity, personal pride and most of all, their independence.
When asked what the turning point was for starting Keeping Us Safe, Gurwell explains:
“There was never one particular event. It was the result of 20-plus years of holding dying people in my arms at terrible car accidents, and delivering dozens and dozens of death notifications to families. I would much rather work with families bringing a peaceful resolve to this sensitive and uncomfortable issue now, rather than have them deal with it when a State Trooper is knocking on their front door”.
To learn more about becoming a Certified “Beyond Driving with Dignity” Professional or to schedule a self-assessment for your loved one, visit Keeping Us Safe at http://www.keepingussafe.org, or telephone 877-907-8841.
Matt Gurwell is the developer of the nationally-recognized “Beyond Driving with Dignity” program. He currently lectures throughout the United States on topics related to the aging process and its adverse affects on driving skills. As developer of this life-saving program, Matt’s mission is to provide strategies and guidance to seniors that will help them to continue driving safely until the decision is made to retire from their driving career. The “Beyond Driving with Dignity” program also provides an excellent array of services and resources for both families and professionals as they deal with this very sensitive issue. Matt retired from a very distinguished and successful 24-year career as an Assistant District Commander with the Ohio State Highway Patrol. After leaving the Patrol, Matt has participated in a tremendous amount of work in the area of older driver research, best practices, current vehicle safety technologies, and adaptive equipment. Matt's creative, innovative and common sense approach, combined with his uncanny ability to bring calm and resolve to stressful situations without ever jeopardizing the dignity of others, has contributed greatly to the success of the “Beyond Driving with Dignity” program. When asked what the ultimate motivation was for starting the program, Matt explains: "There was never one particular event. It was the result of 20-plus years of holding dying people in my arms at terrible car accidents, and delivering dozens and dozens of death notifications to families. I would much rather work with families to bring a peaceful resolve to this sensitive and uncomfortable issue now, rather than have them deal with it when a State Trooper is knocking on their front door". Matt serves as Senior Care Authority’s Program Director for the “Beyond Driving with Dignity” program. Senior Care Authority (https://www.seniorcareauthority.com) is now the nation’s exclusive provider of the “Beyond Driving with Dignity” program.