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The National Academies

BTSCRP BTS-12 [Active]

State Practices Promoting Older Driver Safety

  Project Data
Funds: $300,000
Staff Responsibility: Richard Retting
Research Agency: Cambridge Systematics
Principal Investigator: Pamela Beer
Effective Date: 5/4/2020
Completion Date: 2/21/2022
Comments: Research completed

BACKGROUND

The most recent figures from the U.S. Census Bureau indicate that as of July 2015, 47.8 million people were age 65 and older in the United States.  This represents 14.0 percent of the total population.  By 2060 that number is projected to more than double to 98.2 million which will represent nearly one in four people living in the U.S, with 20 million 85 or older.  Unlike previous generations, the baby boom generation (those born between 1946 and 1964) will live and drive longer than their parents and grandparents.  While older adults tend to practice safe driving behaviors, the effects of aging may impact their driving ability.  What makes it difficult for highway safety countermeasures is that there is no specific age when any of these effects occur and to what degree someone can be affected.  Aging impacts people differently, but the fact remains that older adults accounted for 18 percent of all driver fatalities in 2017.

In 2014, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recognized the issue and released Highway Safety Program Guideline No. 13, Older Driver Safety.  It stated that states should have a program to reduce older driver crashes, fatalities, and injuries.  Each state older driver safety program should address driver licensing and medical review of at-risk drivers, medical and law enforcement education, roadway design, and collaboration with social services and transportation services providers.  It is unclear to what extent state highway safety offices are addressing this guideline or preparing to meet the increased challenges of the older driver population in the future. 

OBJECTIVE

 

The objective of this research is to develop a guide for state highway safety offices to enhance older driver safety based on Highway Safety Program Guideline No. 13, Older Driver Safety.  The guide should include tools, policy alternatives, educational strategies and messages, and other relevant approaches to promote the safety of older drivers, and, by extension, all road users.

 

STATUS: Research underway.

 

 

 

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