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Older Drivers Program

The Older Driver Safety Program

Funding by the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety

Who:

  • End users: Older drivers and their caretakers
  • Direct recipients:  Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and Response staff and other community older adult and traffic safety stakeholders.
  • Program services are provided by the Injury Prevention Program (IPP) to build support for statewide and local program development.

What:

The Older Driver Safety Program goal is to maintain the mobility of older adults while keeping them safe. The program primarily focuses on reducing the number of injuries and fatalities experienced by older drivers, and where possible, enhancing mobility options for older adults.  The program utilizes a public health approach to develop collaborative relationships with the Division of Aging Services and other older driver stakeholders to provide technical assistance and resource development for health and safety professionals, as well as the public. Program activities include the development of a steering committee, focus group discussions, and a needs assessment of issues and services relevant to keeping older drivers safe in Georgia. Utilizing the knowledge gained from these activities, the IPP will identify, implement, and evaluate a pilot intervention to assess its effectiveness at achieving the program’s goals.

Where:

The activities of the Older Driver Safety project involve assessing the potential for educational, policy, and environmental changes that support safe mobility for older adults, especially older drivers. All project activities will be conducted statewide.

Program Activities:

Georgia Older Driver Task Force

Mission Statement:

Georgians:  Getting Older, Getting Wiser, Getting Mobile

Goal:  To maintain the mobility and safety of older drivers, while making the roadways safer for all road users.  The task force meets monthly to discuss older driver related issues, with efforts to decrease injuries and fatalities among them.  The task force will implement activities such as legislative proposals, alternative transportation, physician awareness, and CarFit geared towards education, engineering, and evaluation.

Legislative Proposal

Goal: To propose legislation that will address the cognitive and physical abilities, and balance the needs of older drivers with the safety of other road users for Georgia.  Our plan is to research other states rules and regulations at their department of motor vehicles, and their legislative outcomes.  The task force will list the top recommendations for legislative proposal and address them to appropriate officials.

Alternative Transportation

Goal: Our goal for alternative transportation is to address older adult’s mobility issues and improve access to mobility options in Georgia.   This goal includes researching other states and their progress with alternative transportation.  The group has implemented an Alternative Transportation Focus group, subgroup of Older Driver Task Force, which will collaborate with existing transportation service committees towards expanding and improving alternate transportation options throughout Georgia.

Older Driver Reporting and Evaluation Form

Goal:  In Georgia, law enforcements are not trained on how to handle situations involving older drivers who endanger themselves and others when driving on the roads.  The group suggests developing an evaluation and reporting form for law enforcements to use.  The form will properly report drivers who show signs of impairment due to taking medication, vision problems, cognitive thinking, and physical handicap.  Our goal is to develop a focus group consisting of law enforcements and other stakeholders.  The focus group will meet several times during the year to develop the form.  Once the form has been developed, the form will require approval from Department of Driver’s Services.

Physician’s Awareness

Goal:  Many physicians are not trained to assess and evaluate an older driver ability to continue to drive or have their license taken away.  Our goal is to have a physician to develop PowerPoint presentation training about this concern.  The Physician Awareness will be an educational PowerPoint CD which will train physicians on how to assess and evaluate older drivers.  Additionally, the CD will help the family members cope with the possible decision of their loved ones needing to retire from driving.

Older Driver Safety (Train-the-Trainer) Workshop

Goal:  To address the knowledge gaps among traffic engineers and highway designers.

Pilot Intervention

Goal:  The pilot project will involve collaboration with GDOT engineers, assessing environmental design features aimed at maintaining the safety of older adults who drive, walk, or take alternative transportation.

CarFit program

Goal:  To educate drivers, especially seniors on how to fit correctly and safely in their car seat while driving.  The program does not take the keys from the driver.  Instead, it is a free educational program offered by Georgia Traffic Injury Prevention Institute in Georgia to train individuals to be certified CarFit Technicians and/or Event Coordinators.  Once certified, CarFit events are voluntarily hosted at churches, senior community’s centers, and grocery store parking lots.  The event lasts approximately 4 hours.

Why:

Older drivers have an excessively high rate of motor vehicle fatalities compared to other adult age groups, on a per vehicle mile traveled (VMT) basis. By 2025, in Georgia, motor vehicle crashes account for the second leading cause of unintentional injury deaths among older adults age 65 and older.  In 2008, 154 (69 %) of the 222 older drivers involved in fatal crashes in Georgia died.  In 2008, drivers 65 years and older had the highest driver crash fatality rates (14.2 per 1,000 crashes) among all driving age populations, including teenagers.

Impact:

Reduce the injuries and fatalities suffered by older drivers. Make the roadways safer for all drivers and pedestrians.

Return on Investment:

Hospital charges for motor vehicle related injuries attributed to residents 65 years and older and totaled more than $58 million in 2007. Prevention strategies that maintain the safety of older drivers benefit everyone.

 


Contact Information:

Elizabeth Head | (404) 657-2894 | enhead@dhr.state.ga.us