Even though statistically they are amongst the safest drivers on the road, the amount of drivers 65 and older is increasing at a dramatic rate and with it the number of injuries and deaths in the group.
The older adult population since 2003 has increased by about 20% and the number of older drivers with licenses has gone up by 21% and as of 2012 was 35 million.
In 2012, the NHTSA reported that there were 5,560 people above the age of 65 who died and more than 214,000, who were injured in automobile crashes. That was a 3% increase in driving fatalities and an increase of 16% in auto related injuries compared to in 2011.
Due to the figures going up, NHTSA has instituted its new strategic five-year plan that will focus on three critical areas: vehicles safety, data collection and driver behavior.
In vehicle safety, the plan pays particular attention to advance technologies like collision avoidance , vehicle-to-vehicle communication and crashworthiness.
With data collection, the NHTSA is planning to refine its system while it continues to examine crash injuries and rates, along with naturalistic and clinical studies of cognitive, naturalistic and physical studies associated with the behavior of a driver at that age.
The NHTSA plans to focus efforts on driver behavior through identifying issues that pertain to the at risk’s drivers’ changes such as strength, vision, cognition and flexibility. The efforts also include the Older Driver Safety Program Guidelines that is brand new. In addition, it was unveiled in conjunction with an awareness week for older drivers.
The new Safety Guidelines by the NHTSA are based upon the best practices across the country. They include countermeasures that one can implement to make sure older drivers are safe.
The new guidelines encourage the offices of state highway safety to work together with officials from the driver license authority, transportation departments, aging services providers, medical providers and more.