Keeping Baby Boomers Mobile
The Baby Boomer generation is now the new senior generation, which means more seniors on the road then ever before.
In a report called “Keeping Baby Boomers Mobile” just released by TRIP a national transportation and research group, found that although the level of overall traffic fatality rates has fallen to record lows in recent years, older motorist are still involved in a disproportionately high share of traffic fatalities. The study found that there were 5,750 fatal crashes in the year 2010 involving at least one driver 65 years or older. In Florida the highest number of fatalities involving senior it found that 271 seniors died in accidents that year and that 503 fatal crashes involved a senior.
The Baby Boomer generation is now the new senior generation with the first of the baby boomers now reaching the age of 65, like their parents before them they will strive to maintain their mobility as long as possible. This means we will have more seniors behind the wheel than ever before. Projections show that one in every five drivers will be 65 or older by 2025. States such as California, Florida and Texas have the largest numbers of seniors in the US along with the highest number of fatalities.
Florida with 2.7 million senior drivers had the highest number of traffic fatalities of drivers 65 or older with 503 fatalities, California which has the most drivers 65 or older nationwide about 3.1 million came in third with 390 fatalities involving seniors. Texas however which has the highest per-capita death rate, when senior population is figured in. Texas has 2.0 million seniors with a death toll just under California at 390 fatalities involving those 65 or older.
The TRIP report did not have an explanation as to why the statistic point to such a high level of fatal crashes involving seniors in Texas, but do point to the fact that California has spent a considerable amount of energy improving such thing as it’s highway system and implementing a tiered approach driver licensing system. How those facts might play into this current crash statistic remains unclear.
What states need to do to improve road safety?
- SAFER ROADS: clearer, brighter and simpler signage with large lettering; brighter street markings, particularly at intersections; widening or adding left-turn lanes and extending the length of merge or exit lanes; adding rumble strips.
- SAFER DRIVERS: promoting education and training programs for older drivers; evaluating and monitoring “at risk” older motorists through appropriate licensing requirements.
- SAFER VEHICLES: improving vehicles to help withstand and avoid crashes.
- IMPROVED CHOICES: ensuring public transit routes, vehicles, facilities and stops are easily accessible and accommodating to older or disabled passengers; and expanding non-traditional approaches tailored to the needs of older adults.
ASSESSMENTS AND GUIDELINES FOR OLDER DRIVERS
Although many older motorists tend to self-regulate and monitor their own driving
and abilities, many states require more stringent testing and license renewal policies
for older drivers. A variety of organizations offer classes and independent
evaluations for older drivers to sharpen their skills and determine the range of their
- Older motorists can sharpen their skills behind the wheel and monitor their driving abilities as they age through a variety of classes and independent evaluations. AAA and AARP are just two organizations that offer courses in driver safety and self-assessments geared toward helping older motorists determine the range of their driving abilities. Research shows that people whose driving has been limited by age-related issues experience a significant decline in quality of life and their restricted mobility adversely impacts the individual, their family, the community and the society in which they live. Several organizations promote the need for older drivers to update their skills and offer evaluations and refresher courses for older drivers who want to determine whether they should limit or stop driving.
The following sites offer assessment
and safety tips for older drivers and their loved ones:
- Ten Signs it’s Time to Limit Your Driving (AARP), Senior Driving Safety Tips and the Silver Century Road Skills Report.
- Before they ultimately give up driving, many older motorists gradually ramp down their personal travel. So, while they still may be licensed, the oldest drivers tend to make much less frequent trips in their vehicles.Many states require more stringent and frequent testing and license renewal policies for older drivers. These can include shortened periods between renewals, in-person renewal after a certain age and vision and road tests that are not routinely required of younger drivers. Additional licensing requirements for older drivers exist in 28 states and the District of Columbia. Some research suggests that age-based mandatory assessment programs may not effectively identify and manage the small portion of older motorists whose driving should be limited or stopped. And they may prematurely curtail the mobility of drivers who were already self-regulating and managing their driving. There are many seniors who are capable of operating complex technology and with the coordination required to do so. Many seniors ride bicycles and motorcycles, fly airplanes or operate heavy equipment on their farms or on the job; to disqualify a person simply because of age is not an acceptable criteria for restricting a person’s privilege to drive. For older Americans, as well as the population in general, the ability to travel represents freedom, activity and choice. Older Americans prize their mobility and active lifestyles and want to maintain them as long as possible. For many older people, driving remains the safest, easiest and most convenient means of transportation.
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