While older Americans -- those described as being age 65 and older -- are historically some of the safest drivers, with more of these drivers on the road, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has announced plans to improve safety among these older drivers. This is in response to not only the fact that more older drivers are on the roadways, but that there was a significant increase last year in the number of older drivers injured or killed in motor vehicle accidents.
According to the NHTSA, in 2012, 214,000 older people were injured in car accidents, while 5,560 were killed in crashes. This represents a 16 percent spike in injuries and a 3 percent spike in fatalities from the year before.
To try and combat these rising numbers, the NHTSA has devised a plan with three major focus points: driver behavior, vehicle safety and data collection. The hope is all three of these points will merge together to improve safety for older drivers.
In terms of driver behavior, the focus will be on public education and identifying the issues that more affect the older population, like changes in vision and flexibility, along with cognition and strength.
There is also the belief that technology can play a role in driver safety. For example, vehicle-to-vehicle communication may be able to prevent an accident from happening in the first place.
Lastly, data collection in which the rate of crashes and injuries, along with studies geared toward how driver behavior changes as one ages, will also be included in the NHTSA plan.
Overall, with the population of older Americans and older drivers increasing in the U.S., the hope is actions can be taken to reduce the number of accidents among older drivers now and into the future.