SWFL Traffic Accidents & Risks of Older Drivers this Winter

To help to promote Older Driver Safety Awareness Week, officials with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have launched a new roadmap to help ensure the safety of the nation’s elderly population as the number of older drivers on the road continues to grow.

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“This plan will help enhance safety for everyone by helping states address the mobility needs of their older drivers,” said Anthony Foxx, the U.S. Transportation Secretary.

Our Fort Myers car accident attorneys understand that the population of older drivers (those 65 and older) has increased by approximately 20 percent since 2003.  At the same time, the number of these elderly residents who have driver’s licenses has increased by about 21 percent, totaling close to 40 million elderly licensed drivers in 2012.  The NHTSA’s latest issue of Safety In Numbers reports that there were more than 5,500 elderly people who were killed and another 215,000 who were injured in motor-vehicle accidents in the U.S. in 2012.  One of the biggest problems among elderly drivers is that they face a higher risk of death and serious injury in the event of an accident, even in low-severity collisions.

To help to address these issues, officials with the NHTSA are focusing on:

-Vehicle Safety:  Safe driving advocates are looking into various advanced vehicle technologies to help to reduce these risks, including vehicle-to-vehicle communications, crashworthiness and collision avoidance technologies.  They’re also looking into adding a new “Silver” rating system within the New Car Assessment Program to help elderly drivers to find the safest car for them.

-Better Data Collection:  The NHTSA is tuning up its data collection system to get a better hand on accident rates, injuries and on the cognitive, physical and perceptual changes that drivers face.  The agency will also be looking into age-related medical conditions and how they affect a driver’s safety.

-Driver Behavior: Officials recognize that age on its own isn’t a factor in safe driving, and will continue education efforts regarding the functional changes of flexibility, vision and strength in at-risk drivers. One of the most effective of these efforts is the new Older Driver Highway Safety Program Guidelines, which was recently released by the NHTSA.

The guidelines of the Older Driver Highway Safety Program are based on best driving practices around the U.S. and include some important countermeasures that older drivers can take to help to keep them safe.

In 2011, 5,401 people age 65 and older were killed and 185,000 were injured in motor-vehicle traffic crashes.  During this time in the state of Florida, there were close to 450 elderly individuals who were killed in traffic accidents.  We saw more of these accidents and fatalities than any other state in the country.  For this reason, the safety of our elderly drivers is more important than ever.

For the majority of seniors, getting behind the wheel is perhaps the activity that most maintains their sense of independence while age conspires to rob them of it in so many other ways.  But there are safer ways to maintain your independence without putting your well-being at risk.

If you or someone you love has been injured, contact Hollander Law Form at 888-751-7770 for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights.  There is no fee unless we win.