Over the next few years, there is expected to be a dramatic spike in the number of senior drivers on our roads. In order to deal with this increase and the related accident risks, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently announced the launch of a new five-year strategic plan that is targeted specifically at reducing the risk of accidents involving elderly drivers.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, since 2003 alone, the population of senior motorists aged above 65 in this country has increased by a staggering 20%. The number of licensed senior motorists in the country has also increased by 21% and in 2012, there were approximately 35 million senior motorists of this age category in this country. In 2012, more than 5, 560 people above the age of 65 died in car accidents. More than 214,000 senior motorists in this age category were also injured in these accidents.
What is also concerning is that the number of senior car accident fatalities have actually been increasing. Compared to 2011, there was actually a 3% increase in fatalities involving senior motorists, as well as a 16% increase in injuries.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s new strategic plan will focus on three areas, which are of particular concern to senior drivers. First of all, the plan will focus on increased auto safety, and the use of auto safety technologies like vehicle-two vehicle communications, accident crash avoidance technologies as well as auto crash worthiness. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also plans upgrades to the New Car Assessment Program, which will include a new Silver rating for older occupants.
The federal agency also plans to increase and enhance the accumulation of data to examine crash rates and injuries involving senior motorists. The plan will also include an analysis of senior motorist behavior, which will include a focus on public education,and identification of those issues that place seniors at a high risk of accidents, including age-related changes.