Thursday, July 16, 2009

The True Risk Senior Drivers Pose

A series of recent traffic-related incidents in Massachusetts involving senior drivers have thrust the issues of senior licensing and the danger senior drivers pose on the road into the national spotlight. While these incidents were certainly tragic, the truth is that while seniors may appear to be a threat on the road they are actually less of a threat than you or I. In fact a recent AAA Foundation study that was published in the Journal of Safety Research analyzed government data on fatal crashes from 1999-2003 to estimate the risk that drivers of various ages would be involved in and be partially responsible for a fatal crash. The study revealed teenagers are the most at risk group to be involved in a fatal crash and that seniors, while they do pose some threat, are actually much more of risk to themselves then other drivers or pedestrians. Nevertheless, the study has confirmed that the risk of being involved in a fatal crash increases around age 65, and over 3,000 drivers in that age category are killed each year.

Ideally, getting a drivers’ license should be based on whether an individual has cognitive and physical functional abilities necessary to drive a car. There is no denying some of these abilities are affected with age, but this doesn’t mean senior drivers can’t maintain these abilities at the level necessary to drive. And, given the demographics associated with the baby boom, our society is getting older, and thus, now more than effort we need to emphasize the programs to extend the safe driving experience for older drivers. Fortunately, I am excited to announce that a new computer program (interactive game) called DriveSharp™ is now available that can do just that. The Drive Sharp program uses computer exercises to help seniors improve things such as divided attention, reaction time or “useful field of view” – factors that are directly correlated with being a safe driver. And, from my perspective, the most exciting aspect is that Drive Sharp has been shown to reduce the risk of at-fault crashes by up to 50%. For those seniors who want or need to improve their functional abilities needed to drive this is an outstanding tool. A free screening test and information on the program, including a free is available at

Friday, July 10, 2009

AAA Foundation co-hosts traffic safety culture summit…

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and Western Transportation Institute co-hosted the first National Rural Summit on Traffic Safety Culture on June 22 in Big Sky, Montana. Attendees represented a cross section of individuals and organizations in the transportation community.

The goal was to generate dialogue about traffic safety culture, its meaning and the influence it has on public attitudes and behaviors. I was extremely pleased with the issues we were able to address. It is imperative that we consider the cultural factors that define our values and govern our behavior to improve transportation safety. This discussion of traffic safety culture’s role in society among industry professionals is a step in the right direction.