Feds Announce New 5-Year Safety Plan in Response to Increasing Fatalities Among Older Drivers

In conjunction with Older Driver Safety Awareness Week (December 2-6), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently announced a five year plan to help the nation’s older drivers. Over the past 10 years, the population of adults ages 65 and over has increased by 20 percent; the number of drivers 65 and over has risen to 35 million, an increase of 21 percent.

As a result of the nation’s increase in older drivers, fatal car crashes involving this population increased 3 percent from the previous year to 5,560. Nearly 214,000 drivers aged 65 and over were injured in car crashes, a 16 percent increase.

To combat these rising numbers, the NHTSA recently introduced a five year plan. U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Fox remarked, “Safety is our highest priority and that includes ensuring the safety of our older drivers, who represent a growing population on our roads. This plan will help enhance safety for everyone by helping states address the mobility of their older drivers.”

The three tiered plan will focus on the following areas:

• Vehicle Safety: The NHTSA is adding a “Silver” rating system to assess the safety of vehicles for older occupants. In addition, the NHTSA is researching such technologies as collision avoidance systems in vehicles. The agency is also looking at vehicle-to-vehicle communications systems.

• Improved Data Collection: To understand better how age-related illness, including dementia, affects older drivers, the NHTSA will conduct further driving studies. In addition, the agency will continue to assess crash rates and injuries.

• Driver Behavior: By releasing the Older Driver Highway Safety Program, the NHTSA will focus on educating drivers and encourage various agencies to work together to support the nation’s older population.

NHTSA Administrator David Strickland stated, “Although older drivers are some of the safest drivers on our roads, our plan builds upon the NHTSA’s current work to help older people drive as safely and as long as possible.”

Website Resource: USA Today, Senior Drivers.

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