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Senior drivers the focus of NHTSA plan

When it comes to dangerous drivers, the demographic that may come to mind for many residing in Allegheny County is teenagers. While it is of course true that teens are involved in car accidents at a higher rate than some other groups, there is another group that that National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is focusing on with a new plan that was recently announced. That group is senior drivers.

The agency's plan, which will extend for five years, focuses on three specific areas:

  • Driver behavior
  • Data collection
  • Vehicle safety

To address driver behavior the NHTSA will address the things that happen to drivers as they age making the task more difficult. The more senior drivers are aware of issues they could face such as those pertaining to flexibility, vision, cognition and strength, the better those individuals will be at determining whether they need to make any adjustments. In addition they will work to educate the public regarding the matter. The information could be beneficial to others on the road as well.

Data collection will focus not only on gathering information regarding issues of cognitive and physical changes mentioned above at a clinical level, but the rate of accidents and injuries that occur as well. The way in which this information is collected will likely change as the years pass.

Where vehicle safety is concerned, there is a new rating system in place that pertains to older individuals who are in automobiles. In addition, crashworthiness, collision avoidance and vehicle-to-vehicle communications will be addressed.

According to NHTSA, in 2012, 5,560 seniors died in car accidents. Another 214,000 were hurt. Both of those numbers were up as compared to the year before. While senior drivers, defined as 65 or older, are statistically some of the safest, with the aging baby boomer generation in that demographic, most would probably agree that addressing this issue sooner, rather than later, is a good thing for all on the road.

When someone is injured or a loved one killed in a car accident that is the fault of another person, it may be difficult to know what steps to take. Regardless of the age of the individual responsible for the crash, filing a civil lawsuit may be the best course of action.

Source: USA Today, “Feds making new rules for senior drivers,” Matt Schmitz, Dec. 8, 2013

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