Safety Reminders for Senior Drivers
the exception of teenagers, the growing
driver demographic of aging Americans
have the highest crash death rates per
mile driven, according to recent highway
from the National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration (NHTSA) show increased
crash numbers for the more than 28 million
U.S. drivers over 65 years old. Additionally,
that demographic is expected to grow,
with an estimated 40 million drivers over
the age of 65 on the roads by 2020.
to Robert Darbelnet, AAA president and
CEO, though most older drivers have safe
driving practices, they do injure easily
when accidents occur.
seniors are often the safest drivers in
that they are more likely to wear their
seatbelts and less likely to speed or
drink and drive, age-related fragility
makes them more likely to be injured when
a crash does occur, Darbelnet said.
Older Americans need to take extra
care to ensure that their cars are properly
adjusted for them.
help educate drivers and combat the risk
of accident and injury, Americas
leading senior citizen health and advocacy
organizations have created the first in-car
safety program to ensure a seniors
proper fit inside vehicles. Instated by
the American Society on Aging, in collaboration
with AAA, AARP and the American Occupational
Therapy Association (AOTA), the CarFit
program was designed to ensure older drivers
properly adjusted their vehicles' settings,
which could reduce rates of senior crashes
and related injuries or deaths.
to officials, the program uses information
found through more than two years of research
and development. A recent pilot evaluation
by the program found that more than 33
percent of senior drivers have had at
least one safety or driving-related concern
they needed help addressing.
help combat these problems, the CarFit
program offers a 12-point checklist for
older drivers, helping ensure they are
seated properly in their vehicle with
the drivers seat, seat belt, mirrors,
steering wheel, head rest, gas/brake pedals
and other controls are positioned properly.
CarFit evaluation takes only 15 minutes
and checks drivers based on the following
Safety belt use
2. Steering wheel tilt
3. Head restraint setting
4. Air bag positioning
5. Line of sight over steering wheel
6. Gas pedal positioning
7. Brake pedal positioning
8. Mirror adjustment
9. Neck Mobility
10. Parking brake operation
11. Ignition key operation
12. Vehicle control operation
many driver safety programs are directed
toward improving cognitive abilities and
skills, CarFit is the first program that
works with older drivers to determines
proper fit inside a vehicle. According
to Darbelnet, the program hits on a safety
issue that has been previously ignored.
is a fact of life that our bodies become
frailer as we get older and an ill-fitting
car can make travel both uncomfortable
and unsafe, he said.
trial version of the program was administered
in 2006, with more than 300 drivers participating.
Results from the trial show that 37 percent
of senior drivers had at least one safety
issue. Ten percent of drivers did not
have the right spacing between their steering
wheel and chest, while almost 20 percent
of drivers didn't have a clear line of
sight over their steering wheel.
learn more about CarFit program and its
trial results, visit AAA.