State DMV seeks to keep older drivers safe

Published Dec 6, 2017 at 4:00pm

New York State today recognized Older Driver Safety Awareness Week, which takes place from Dec. 4-8. As part of the week-long campaign officials will launch a social media campaign on its Facebook and Twitter accounts directed at both older drivers and those with an older driver in their family or community.

“We must remember to safely share the road with all drivers, including those who are older. By raising awareness and understanding their needs, we help make our roads a safer place,” DMV Executive Deputy Commissioner Terri Egan said.

Older Americans are extending their time behind the wheel compared to previous generations. In 2010, 84 percent of Americans 65 and older held a driver license, compared to barely half in the early 1970’s. Today, one in six drivers on U.S. roads are ages 65 and older.

“For most New Yorkers, driving is an essential part of staying connected to our communities—visiting family and friends, and getting to work, the supermarket, pharmacy, and the doctor’s office, among others. New York’s population is getting older, ranking fourth in the nation with 3.7 million people age 60 and over, and this number continues to increase,” Acting Director of the NYS Office for the Aging Greg Olsen said.

Older adults, as a group, are among the safest drivers on the roads. Drivers over age 55 are involved in fewer crashes, and per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are more likely to observe safer driving behaviors.

However, older drivers are also more likely to be killed or injured in traffic crashes due to age-related vulnerabilities, such as more fragile bones, prescription medication use, and chronic medical conditions.

Except for teen drivers, older drivers have the highest crash death rate per mile driven, even though they drive fewer miles than younger people.

“Older drivers and their caregivers can enhance driving safety and increase mobility in the community through important tools like CarFit, an educational program that provides older adults the opportunity to check how well their personal vehicles ‘fit’ them, as well as information and materials on community-specific resources,” Olsen said.

Research shows that older drivers were involved in 207 fatal crashes in New York in 2016. That number has dropped to 132 fatal crashes in 2017. This data marks a 36 percent decline and continues to illustrate the importance of introducing traffic safety for older drivers.

In 2015 the state launched a website to promote older driver safety titled “Safe Driving Tips for Older New Yorkers.”

For more information a visit dmv.ny.gov, or follow the DMV on Facebook and Twitter. To learn about additional traffic safety reminders, call
1-800-342-9871.