Funding Needed to Safeguard Older Drivers

Study Shows Seniors Face Disproportionately High Traffic Fatality Rate

A new report makes the case for increasing funding, research and planning to support older drivers navigating the roads now and into the future.

TRIP, a national non-profit transportation research group, today released the report, “Keeping Baby Boomers Mobile: Preserving Mobility and Safety for Older Americans.” In it, the group emphasized that although state departments of transportation (DOTs) are doing a commendable job in trying to educate the public and safeguard older drivers, there remains much room for innovation.

“State transportation departments are doing what they can with limited resources,” said AASHTO Executive Director John Horsley. “A long-term federal surface transportation reauthorization will give state DOTs the ability to invest in infrastructure projects to enhance safety, decrease traffic congestion, and improve the security and mobility of older Americans, who, [according to the study] make 90 percent of their trips by private vehicle.”

The basis for increasing funding and awareness is intimately related to two factors:

  1. The number of Baby Boomers on the road is surging.
  2. Older motorists are involved in a disproportionately high share of deadly auto accidents.

The number of older Americans and their share of the overall population surged in 2011, as the first of the Baby Boom generation began turning 65. This dramatic growth will continue throughout the decade, and it is estimated that one in every five drivers in America will be age 65 or older by 2025.

Safer Roads, Safer Drivers

Despite the fact that the total number of traffic fatalities dropped in recent years, older motorists are more likely to lose their lives in an accident. TRIP reports that there were 5,750 traffic fatalities in 2010 involving at least one driver 65 or older, and that even though drivers 65 and older account for just 8 percent of all miles driven, they comprise 17 percent of all traffic-related deaths.

“The growing ranks of older Americans will far outpace previous generations with their level of ability and activity,” said TRIP Executive Director Will Wilkins. “Serving their needs will require safer roads, safer vehicles, safer drivers, and improved choices. Congress can help not only older drivers, but all drivers by passing long-term federal surface transportation legislation now.”



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