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NHTSA to make new guidelines for older drivers

The reality of having older drivers on the road has prompted federal regulators to create new rules to deal with the growing number of senior citizens behind the wheel. According to a recent USA Today.com report, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced a five-year plan to improve safety for older drivers.

The plan ostensibly focuses on three target areas:

Vehicle safety – This area focuses on technologies such as crash avoidance systems and crashworthiness. Essentially, ratings will be given (aptly named “Silver” ratings) on how cars qualify under these protocols.

Data collection – The administration seeks to refine how it collects information on crash rates, injuries as well as physical and cognitive changes associated with advancing age.

Driver behavior – This will include new initiatives on educating older drivers. The Older Driver Highway Safety Guidelines, in conjunction with Older Driver Awareness Week will bring to light issues regarding vision, strength, flexibility and cognition.

These steps are important given how this segment of the driving public has grown. Statistics show that over the last 10 years, the number of people age 65 and over has grown by 20 percent. Likewise, the number of older licensed drivers has grown by 21 percent. With more than 200,000 older drivers injured in car accidents, these initiatives take on greater importance.

While these initiatives are helpful steps towards making older drivers safer on the road, the use of reasonable care is still an important consideration. Older drivers, like their younger counterparts, have a duty drive like a reasonable person would in similar circumstances. Failing to do so could subject them to liability.

Source: USA Today.com, “Feds making new rules for senior drivers,” Mark Schmitz, December 8, 2013

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