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Federal Government Releases Plan to Address to Growing Number of Older Drivers

In 2012, there were an estimated 35 million licensed drivers over the age of 65 on our roadways, an increase of more than 20 percent over 2003 figures. The number of older drivers is expected to further skyrocket over the next several years.

As we age, our driving abilities tend to decrease and make us more prone to mistakes. In addition, older drivers are more likely to die or suffer serious injuries, even in a minor crash. For instance, a 50-year-old female has about a 10-percent risk of a serious injury in a frontal crash, while an 80-year-old female has about a 40-percent risk.

Accordingly, the influx of older drivers is a significant safety concern. In response, the National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently announced a new traffic safety plan and guidelines to address older drivers.

“Safety is our highest priority and that includes ensuring the safety of our older drivers, who represent a growing population on our roads,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “This plan will help enhance safety for everyone by helping states address the mobility needs of their older drivers.”

The plan addresses three key issues:

Vehicle Safety: The NHTSA is studying several advanced vehicle technologies such as vehicle-to-vehicle communications, collision avoidance and crashworthiness, that could help reduce the risk of death or injury to older occupants involved in an accident.

Improved Data Collection: The NHTSA plans to update its data collection systems and will continue to analyze crash rates, real-world injuries, as well as physical, cognitive, and perceptual changes associated with older drivers.

Driver Behavior: The NHTSA will continues its efforts on public education and identifying functional changes including vision, strength, flexibility, and cognition to help at-risk drivers. The agency also released Older Driver Highway Safety Program Guidelines, which are designed to help identify and assist at-risk drivers.

For more information about the most common hazards for older drivers, please stay tuned for tomorrow’s post.