The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has announced a
new five-year strategic plan to improve safety for elderly drivers and
Although they are statistically among the safest on
the road, the number of older drivers is increasing dramatically - and
with it, that group's numbers of injuries and deaths.
the population of older adults, defined as age 65 and older, has
increased by 20% and the number of licensed older drivers increased by
21% to 35 million in 2012, according to NHTSA.
Last year, NHTSA
reported that 5,560 people older than 65 died and 214,000 were injured
in car crashes, a 3% spike in fatalities and a 16% spike in injuries
compared with 2011. That's in addition to an increased risk of death or
serious injury in even low-severity crashes, NHTSA stated.
In response to these figures, NHTSA's strategic plan will focus on three key areas:
safety, particularly with regard to advanced technologies such as
vehicle-to-vehicle communications, collision avoidance and
crashworthiness; that's in addition to upgrades to NHTSA's New Car
Assessment Program, including the new "Silver" rating system for
protection of older occupants.
Data collection, for which NHTSA
intends to refine its systems as it continues to examine crash rates and
injuries, as well as clinical and naturalistic studies of physical,
cognitive and perceptual changes associated with drivers' behavior as
Driver behavior, for which NHTSA will focus efforts on
public education and identifying issues pertaining to at-risk drivers'
functional changes such as vision, strength, flexibility and cognition.
This effort includes the all-new Older Driver Highway Safety Program
Guidelines, also unveiled today in conjunction with Older Driver Safety
Awareness Week, which kicked off Monday and runs through today.
Older Driver Highway Safety Program Guidelines are based on best
practices around the country and include countermeasures that can be
implemented to ensure the safety of older drivers, including at-risk
drivers," the agency said in a statement. "The guidelines encourage
state highway safety offices to work closely with driver license
officials, state departments of transportation, medical providers and
aging services providers, among others."