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It's Older Driver Safety Awareness Week

Did you know that December 4th-8th, 2023 is Older Driver Awareness Week?  



As older populations increasingly live longer and healthier lives, older adults remain behind the driving wheel well into their 90s. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Older Driver Safety campaign page, between 2021 and 2021, the United States population of people 65 and older increased by 29%.


Driving keeps older adults mobile and independent, but it also raises their chance of getting involved in a traffic accident and suffering severe injuries or death. According to Transportation Alternatives, New Yorkers 65 or older make up 15 percent of the population, but in 2022, they made up 24% percent of all traffic fatalities.


According to the Institute for Traffic Safety Management & Research’s (ITSMR) Traffic Safety Statistical Repository (TSSR), there were 8,735 crashes involving older drivers in Nassau County and 7,257 crshes involving older drivers in Suffolk Country in 2022. Preliminary 2023 data thankfully shows a dip in those numbers so far, with 5,248 older driver crashes in Nassau County and 5,176 older driver crashes in Suffolk County in 2023. The same summary also shows 107 older drive/bike crashes and 200 older driver/pedestrian crashes across Long Island in 2022.


The CDC points out that age-related changes are major risk factors for motor vehicle accidents. Age-related changes in senses like hearing and vision, reaction time, physical functioning, and the ability to reason and remember can influence one’s ability to drive. As well as the effects different medications can cause, impaired judgment, affected reflexes, or the alertness necessary for safe driving, might impact some older drivers’ abilities to drive.  


Older adults can take the following steps to drive more safely as they age:


  • Wearing a seat belt is one of the most effective ways to save lives and reduce injuries in crashes for drivers and passengers of all ages.

  • Whenever possible, only drive when conditions are safest, like during the day and in good weather. Poor weather and driving at night increase the likelihood of a crash.

  • Regularly consult with doctors and other medical professionals about changes in health and effects of medication.

  • Develop a plan if needed to assist older adults in alternative transportation.


Family and friends need to recognize signs of change in our older loved ones that can help protect them when it comes to driving safely. Also, education and spreading awareness to the older adult population to recognize signs of unsafe driving and monitoring changes in overall health are essential to keeping everyone safe and helping people live happier, longer lives. Talking with older adults about driving or evaluating their driving can be difficult, but it is essential, especially before it becomes a safety issue.


Learning how to understand and influence older drivers before having a conversation is important. Here are some steps to help our older loved ones drive safely and prevent a crash:


  • Collect information about what is happening with the older driver in your life, including driving observations, non-driving observations, and encourage the driver to evaluate his or her own driving performance.

  • Make a plan to sit down and talk with the older driver to determine if the person is driving safely within the acknowledged limits of their capabilities, if there’s a problem, and whether other transportation options need to be identified.

  • Follow through on the plan you determine together. Review the plan periodically and maintain open lines of communication with the older driver.


Visit these helpful links for more information about older drivers and their safety on our shared roads:


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