The National Transportation Board recently met to discuss a record number of high-risk drivers hitting the road, and it’s not teens. It’s aging baby boomers. According to USA Today, in the next couple of years, more than one in five drivers will be senior citizen. That equals about 57 million senior drivers. Since drivers over age 85 are involved in more deadly crashes than newly-licensed teenagers, experts are scrambling to come up with ways to make driving safe for everyone. So, why are seniors high-risk drivers?
- Because simply, as you age, your driving ability decreases. Your reflexes slow down. For example, a 40-year-old needs 20 times more light to see at night than a 20-year-old. So, it takes longer for seniors to react to traffic light changes or other drivers merging on the road.
- Older drivers have less flexible bodies. So, it’s challenging for them to quickly look to the side or over their shoulder for oncoming cars and pedestrians. In fact, older drivers are more likely to kill themselves in an accident than the person they hit because they’re more frail!
So with an increase in high-risk drivers, The National Transportation Safety Board is working on ways to keep them safe and mobile.
- First: Auto manufacturers will begin to incorporate military and commercial aviation technology into cars. For example, cars will have crash warning systems that alert drivers to a potential accident. Ford is already installing inflatable seat belts to protect injury-prone older occupants in a crash who have weaker bones and muscles.
- Also, roads will get a make-over. Most accidents that kill older drivers are left turn-related crashes. The plan to cut down on them? Roundabouts, the circular junctions where traffic travels in one direction around a central island.