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This Father's Day, Liberty Mutual Insurance Encourages Drivers to Take Time to Look Out for Dad's Safety Behind the Wheel

June 09, 2011

Father's Day is a time for many of us to visit our Dad and let him know how much he means to us.  And if your father is a senior citizen, it's also a time to take a closer look at his health and comfort to see if there's any way to improve his overall well-being. 

Liberty Mutual Insurance, the eighth largest auto and home insurer in the U.S., believes that should include looking for some of the telltale signs of whether Dad is having difficulty driving. 

The signs can be subtle – a fresh dent on the car bumper, some paint scratched off the side of the garage door, or a recent traffic ticket.  Maybe Dad mentions that he doesn't like driving at night or on highways anymore, or that he got momentarily lost while driving home.  Even taking a leisurely drive with your father will offer insight into his comfort level behind the wheel.

"Father's Day may not be the best time to initiate a conversation about driving, but it is certainly an opportunity to be aware of changes with your father, his surroundings, even his car," said Dave Melton, a driving safety expert with Liberty Mutual and managing director of global safety.  "It's important to preserve the mobility and independence of our senior citizens, and this can be achieved by modifying driving habits or by finding dignified and cost-effective alternative means of transportation."

For several years now, Liberty Mutual has been encouraging adult children to "start the conversation" with their senior citizen parents about driving and when it might be the appropriate time to transition to the passenger seat. 

"It can be difficult to talk to your elderly parents about driving safety.  But in fact, most seniors expect their adult children to have these conversations with them," said Melton.  "Our goal is to foster positive communication among family members about driving safety while also helping provide resources to facilitate and support those important discussions."

A Liberty Mutual survey showed that Baby Boomers had a difficult time talking to their elderly parents about driving safety.  A total of 75 percent of Boomers questioned said they had never started a conversation with their aging parents about driving, fearing that raising the issue would make their parents uncomfortable (58 percent), angry (38 percent), embarrassed (30 percent), or disrespected (12 percent).

Conversely, an overwhelming majority of senior citizens questioned in the same survey said they were more open to having a conversation about driving safety than their children thought.  A total of 94 percent said they would not be embarrassed discussing the topic, while 92 percent said their children "have a right" to raise driving safety with them.

Liberty Mutual offers a multitude of communication tips on its website (www.libertymutual.com/seniordriving), as well as tools to help adult children understand what their senior loved ones may be going through as they age, and resources for the family to address driving-related issues:

  • Driver Seat Game -- These online mini-games actively portray the challenges many senior drivers face by dramatizing visual decline, reduced mobility and poor reaction time in three impairment stages that act as the game's difficulty settings.
    • Players navigate different driving scenarios: heavy traffic, going to the grocery store, finding parking in busy lots, or evading wildlife on winding country roads. 
    • Trivia challenges throughout the game educate the player and reinforce the underlying campaign goals of awareness and empathy in the active game experience.  (www.libertymutual.com/driverseat)
  • National Conversation Drive – This effort is to help foster that first conversation with parents. 
    • Watch online videos of the public attempting activities while wearing movement-restricting "senior simulator" suits and visually-impairing eyewear, giving them first-hand experience of the physical and cognitive limitations that older drivers may experience while operating a motor vehicle.  (http://libertymutualinteractive.com/ncd/
    • Review tips on engaging your parents in conversation about driving in a sensitive and empathetic way.  (http://www.libertymutual.com/senior-family-members)
  • Partnership with ITNAmerica – To offer driving alternatives to seniors, Liberty Mutual partnered with ITNAmerica, the first and only national, non-profit transportation network for America's aging population.
    • With affiliates in 16 communities countrywide, ITN provides personalized rides at a nominal cost 24/7/365 to seniors who limit or stop driving. 
    • ITN volunteers and staff use their own or donated cars to bring member-riders to and from various locations, including medical appointments, grocery shopping, jobs, the gym, or social and personal local destinations.


About Liberty Mutual Insurance

"Helping people live safer, more secure lives" since 1912, Boston-based Liberty Mutual Group (www.libertymutualgroup.com) is a diversified global insurer and the third-largest property and casualty insurer in the U.S. based on A.M. Best Company's report of 2010 net  written premium.  Liberty Mutual Group ranks 82nd on the Fortune 500 list of largest U.S. corporations, based on 2010 revenue.  The company has over 45,000 employees located in more than 900 offices throughout the world.

The eighth-largest auto and home insurer in the U.S., Liberty Mutual (www.libertymutual.com) sells full lines of coverage for automobile, homeowners, valuable possessions, personal liability, and individual life insurance.  The company is an industry leader in affinity partnerships, offering car and home insurance to employees and members of more than 13,000 companies, credit unions, professional associations and alumni groups.

Press Contact:

Glenn Greenberg
Liberty Mutual
617-574-5874
glenn.greenberg@libertymutual.com