The U.S. Department of Transportation’s NHTSA announced on December 5, 2013, a new plan to ensure the safety of older drivers and passengers. NHTSA’s plan will focus on vehicle safety, improved data collection and studying driver’s behavior. They hope to find new technology for vehicles that can reduce the risk of death and serious injuries in older occupants. This would include better collision safety standards in cars. They also plan to conduct driving studies that are more realistic so they can better understand the effects of mental conditions in older adults such as dementia. They will then focus on educating the public on how to notice signs that you or your loved one may be at risk when driving. This will include keeping an eye out for signs of loss of vision, strength, flexibility and cognitive abilities.
Not only are injuries more common and severe, accidents in general are at a higher rate for adults over the age of 65. In 2012, 5,560 people who were 65 and older, were involved in fatal motor vehicle accidents according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA); 214,000 were injured. Older drivers now make up 16 percent of all licensed drivers and is expected to increase.
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According to NHTSA’s data, drivers over the age of 65 struggle most when turning left at intersections either with stop signs or on green without an indicated green arrow, yielding and merging at high speeds and changing multiple lanes. Also it has been shown that there are issues with deciphering traffics signals and signs, misjudging gaps, moving or stopping the vehicle too slowly and being able to visually judge distance.
If you feel you or a loved one maybe struggling while driving, try and assess your visual and physical capabilities and plan regular doctors’ visits for checkups. Try and plan trips during the day while it is light out and traffic is slow. And most importantly, always wear your seatbelt whether you are driving or being a passenger.
Begin talking about safe driving before and accident occurs. If you or someone you know is injured in an accident, consult a personal injury attorney to find out what your rights are. For more information on safe driving you can visit NHTSA’s website.
“NHTSA Announces New 5-Year Traffic Safety Plan and Guidelines for Older Drivers and Passengers”