Study Addresses Older Driver Safety
January 5, 2015
The American Automobile Association (AAA) provides numerous services to American drivers. They continually conduct research to shed light on hot topics related to driver safety and reducing car accidents. AAA recently took a look at how the licensing policies for older drivers affect the rates of fatal car accidents involving senior drivers. The goal of the study is to offer information that would prevent older drivers from having car accidents, while allowing seniors to remain mobile as they age.
The innovative study examined data on fatal crashes over a 36 year period across 46 of the states in America. Study findings reveal that the process of in-person renewal for driver licenses in drivers 55 years and older was most effective in reducing the number of fatal car crashes. In these cases, state policy required drivers to go in person to a motor vehicle agency to renew their licenses instead of mailing in a renewal or using an online renewal process. For drivers ages 55 and older, this policy was associated with a nine percent drop in fatal car accidents. The decrease was even more impressive for those 85 years of age or older. In this category, requiring in-person license renewal saw a 25% decline.
The reasons why the in-person renewal process was so effective could not be clearly determined. Nonetheless, AAA researchers suspect two possibilities. It is believed that the in-person screening process effectively identified at-risk drivers. Moreover, the burden of in-person renewal was enough to dissuade or scare older drivers into not renewing.
The research also shed light on policies which have not impacted the rate of fatal crashes among older drivers. Renewal frequency did not have a significant influence. Requiring drivers to take an on-road test or a written knowledge test did not lower the rate of fatal accidents. Lastly, mandating a physician’s report for patients with questionable driving abilities also did not lower fatal crash rates for seniors.
Vision tests are an important safety aspect for screening senior drivers. The study shows that older drivers in states which mandate vision tests had less fatal car accidents than their counterparts in other states. However, the states that require vision already had lower fatal car accident rates so this finding is not significant.
In conclusion, senior drivers are the group most prone to causing both non-fatal and fatal injuries to others due to a car accident. For this reason, older drivers need to take advantage of any and all safety programs available to them to protect themselves and other they share the road with.
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