New Guidelines Issued For Older Driver Safety - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

New Guidelines Issued For Older Driver Safety

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SALISBURY, Md. - Sparked by a growing and active senior population, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is proposing new ways to help keep older drivers safer on the go.

"My parents are both still driving and they're in their eighties," Mark Brennan said.

They're part of a rapidly growing population that relies on driving to keep a busy and independent lifestyle. NHTSA has announced a five-year plan for safety improvement while they're on the open road, and it includes refining crash data collection systems, a focus on public education and outreach, and looking into advanced technologies like vehicle-to-vehicle communication.

"I think it's probably something that's in everyone's best interest for safer highways," Brennan said.

This comes as the number of adults 65 and older has grown by twenty percent since 2003. And those who are licensed drivers in that group has grown by 21 percent. That means there were thirty five million people sixty five and older behind the wheel in 2012.

More than 5,500 people over 65 died in car accidents last year, and 214,000 were injured. NHTSA reports that people in this group are at greater risk of dying or sustaining serious injuries because of "frailty or fragility." And just last month a 92 year-old driver struck a pedestrian in Berlin.

Age may not play a factor in every case but it's still something that weighs on Brennan.

"I think as you get older your reaction time slows down, your flexibility in turning your neck is decreased, so I have a concern about that," he said.

And they may be echoed by the NHTSA, who also issued the "Older Driver Safety Program Guidelines." It's based on best practices from around the country, and encourage state highway safety agencies, transportation offices, medical providers and others to work together to ensure the safety of America's older drivers.

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