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New safety guidelines to come for senior drivers

With their 2014 offerings, a number of automakers are focusing on crash avoidance (or collision detection) systems. While these technologies are certainly interesting, if not innovative bells and whistles to attract new buyers, they ostensibly are geared towards a growing segment of drivers: senior citizens.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), about 35 million licensed drivers were over the age of 65 as of 2012. This was an increase of 21 percent over the last 10 years. It is reasonable to think that the number of senior drivers will increase as baby boomers grow older. 

With an expected influx of older drivers coming, the NHTSA recently announced a five-year plan designed to increase safety measures for elderly drivers. Indeed, older drivers tend to drive slower (and fewer miles) than younger drivers, the NHTSA reports spikes in fatal accidents and injuries involving senior citizens. Nevertheless, the plan will focus on three key safety aspects: vehicle safety, data collection and driver behavior.

With regard to vehicle safety, the administration hopes to rate and detail upcoming safety technologies such as vehicle-to-vehicle communications and crash avoidance systems. It also hopes to incorporate a “Silver” rating system that will apply to older drivers.

It also hopes to refine its data collection system so that more information can be extrapolated to explain how older drivers’ habits and patterns can lead to accident prevention. Further, the administration will focus on public education, primarily through the new Older Driver Highway Safety Program Guidelines.  They will educate drivers on how their changing faculties will require different driving and safety precautions. 

Source: USA, “Feds making new rules for senior drivers,” Mark Schmitz, December 8, 2013

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