Press Release - 12-04-2017
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, December 4, 2017
Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee Launches Social Media Campaign to Mark Older Driver Safety Awareness Week
Week long initiative to offer resources and raise awareness for New York’s older drivers
The New York State Governor's Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC), the New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA), and New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) today recognized Older Driver Safety Awareness Week, which takes place from December 4 through December 8. As part of the week-long campaign, GTSC, in association with the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), 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.
Acting GTSC Chair and DMV Executive Deputy Commissioner Terri Egan said, “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.”
According to a 2014 report from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 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 1970s. 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,” said Greg Olsen, Acting Director of the NYS Office for the Aging. “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.”
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.
Recent research from The Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research (ITSMR) shows that older drivers were involved in 207 fatal crashes in New York in 2016. Today, preliminary data indicates 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, GTSC and the NYSOFA launched a website to promote older driver safety titled “Safe Driving Tips for Older New Yorkers.” The website encourages the use of online and in-person safety training, car safety check programs, and information and resources to help older drivers understand options for roadway safety. Older drivers are also encouraged to contact their local Office for the Aging to learn about transportation alternatives in their communities.
NYSOFA offers help for families with concerns about older drivers. "Are You Concerned about an Older Driver?," a helpful handbook available online, is a guide for families facing the dilemma of what to do when an aging loved one is at risk. New Yorkers can also call 1-800-342-9871 and ask to be connected to the Older Driver Family Assistance Program, or find help in a nearby NYSOFA local office.