Keeping the Elderly Moving – Safely

By Deborah Hersman

Did you know that older women often give up driving earlier than they should? Or, that older drivers have far fewer accidents than teens? And, that three-fourths of older Americans live in suburban or rural areas where public transportation is limited?

Those are just some of the things we learned at last year’s NTSB forum on Safety, Mobility, and Aging Drivers. We gathered a host of experts from across government, research, and industry to talk about safe mobility for the elderly.

Today, I am speaking on Safety and the Aging Population at the ITS World Congress in Orlando, Florida. I suggest the intelligent transportation community take a two-pronged approach to improve road safety for older drivers: prevention and mitigation.

Using safety technologies, such as electronic stability control, lane departure warning, forward collision warning, will especially benefit the elderly. Mitigation is also important since older adults are more likely to be injured or die as a result of a crash because their bodies are fragile.

The ITS community should think about safety improvements with the older driver in mind, because when safety is improved for the elderly it is improved for everyone. That rising tide of safety will make a huge dent in saving lives in the most essential and most fatal form of transportation.

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