Needs of older drivers not yet met by our roadways and vehicles

Needs of older drivers not yet met by our roadways and vehicles

Consumer Reports News: February 24, 2012 04:38 PM

As Baby Boomers age, older Americans will be more mobile and active than any previous generation, and our nation's transportation system—including roads, traffic signs and vehicle safety—is inadequate when it comes to the safety of these drivers, says a new report by the transportation research group TRIP.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, citizens aged 65 or older will more than double in the next 40 years.

There are some resources for older drivers and their families that can help determine when and if its time to stop driving, as well as how best to approach that conversation and how to make the transition, including information from AAA, AARP, and the National Center on Senior Transportation.

The TRIP report lists states with the highest number and share of older drivers, as well as states with the highest fatality and crash rates involving older drivers. California came in first (followed by Florida) with more than 3 million drivers over 65 years old. Florida came in first (followed by Texas) when it came to the number of fatalities where a crash involved a driver over the age of 65.

Will Wilkins, executive director of TRIP, wants Congress to help older drivers (as well as all drivers), by passing long-term federal surface transportation legislation. "Serving their needs will require a transportation system that includes safer roads, safer vehicles, safer drivers and improved choices," Wilkins said. TRIP had the following recommendations to improve the mobility and safety of older Americans:

  • Clearer, brighter and simpler signage with large lettering, and brighter street markings, particularly at intersections, as well as widening or adding left-turn lanes and extending the length of merge or exit lanes and adding rumble strips.
  • Education and training for older drivers that evaluates and monitors “at risk” older motorists through licensing requirements.
  • Improve vehicles to help withstand and avoid crashes.
  • Ensure public transit routes, vehicles, facilities and stops are easily accessible and accommodate older or disabled passengers, and expand non-traditional approaches tailored to the needs of older adults.

Our Best cars for older drivers includes a list of Consumer Reports recommended vehicles, plus safety features and must haves to look for, such as good visibility and easy to read controls.

Traffic Fatalities Among Older Drivers Remain Disproportionately High [TRIP]

Maggie Shader

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