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Older Drivers Safety Program

Funded by the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety

The Data

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. 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. Also, in 2008, 154 (69 %) of the 222 older drivers involved in fatal crashes in Georgia died. By 2025, in Georgia, motor vehicle crashes will account for the second leading cause of unintentional injury deaths among older adults age 65 and older. 

In 2012, drivers 65 years of age and older were involved in 204 fatal traffic crashes in Georgia. 

Twenty percent of all 2012 occupant fatalities involved a crash with a driver 65 years of age and older. 

The majority of crashes involving older drivers in 2012 occurred on weekdays* and during the day between the hours of noon and 3 pm.

The most common contributing factor for drivers ages 65 and older for both fatal and all crashes was failure to yield right of way.  This includes improper left hand turns.   The 2nd contributing cause for fatal crashes was failure to keep in proper lane. Following too close was the 2nd most common cause for drivers 65 and older involved in a nonfatal crash. 

 

What Older Drivers Need to Know

Understand the impact that aging can have on your safe driving skills:

  • Vision, memory, strength, flexibility, and reaction time can decline as we age.
  • Talk to your doctor about conditions and medications that may affect your driving.

Be proactive about your safe driving skills:

  • Take a certified driver safety course.
  • Attend a CarFit safety event.
  • Learn where your safe driving skills are now: take a self-assessment test or find a Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialist and get an evaluation.

Plan for a safe transition from driving while remaining active:

  • Learn how to start a conversation when concerned about someone's driving.
  • Learn what transportation options are available in your community; start by visiting your local Area Agency on Aging webpage.

 

The Program:

Who:

·Beneficiaries: Older drivers and their caregivers

·Partners: The Older Driver Task Force includes multi-disciplinary partners throughout the state. Some partners to this effort include, but are not limited to: Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, Division of Aging Services (DAS), Regional Geriatric Education Center (RGEC), Area Agencies on Aging (AAA’s) throughout the state, Shepherd Center, Georgia Vision Collaborative, Department of Drivers Services, Association for Driver Rehabilitation Specialists (ADED), Georgia Tech Research Institute, Emory Center for Injury and Control, Atlanta Council on Aging, The Alzheimer’s Association, Greater Atlanta Jewish Federation, Common Courtesy (non-profit, alternative transportation), occupational and physical therapists, non-profit and small businesses committed to older driver safety, and many others.

·Program services are provided by the Georgia Department of Public Health’s (DPH) Injury Prevention Program (IPP) to build support for statewide and local program development, implementation, evaluation, coordination, and data needs.

What:

The Older Driver Safety Program goal is to maintain the mobility of older adults while keeping them safe. The program utilizes a public health approach to develop collaborative relationships and processes to determine appropriate educational, environmental, and policy interventions for health and safety professionals, as well as the public.

Where:

All project activities are focused on statewide implementation.

Program Activities:

Georgia Older Driver Task Force

Mission Statement:

Georgians:  Getting Older, Getting Wiser, Getting Mobile

Overarching Goal:  To maintain the mobility and safety of older drivers, while making the roadways safer for all road users.  The group primarily focuses on reducing the number of injuries and fatalities experienced by older drivers, and where possible, enhancing mobility options for older adults.  The task force will implement activities geared towards five E’s: Education, Engineering, Enforcement (policy), EMS, and Evaluation.

Education -ongoing

Goal: To educate professionals, older adults, their family members, and the community about the risk and protective factors associated with driving safety. The program will provide presentations and educational sessions to professionals, community organizations, older adults, caregivers, and others across many disciplines in order to foster partnerships, collaboration, increase of knowledge about older driver safety concerns and available resources.

Alternative Transportation - ongoing

Goal: The 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, as well as bringing together alternative transportation partners across Georgia in order to foster a collaborative response.

Department of Driver Services (DDS) Partnership - ongoing

Goal:  The Older Driver Task Force partners with DDS to provide helpful information to older drivers and partners. Most recently, the Task Force assisted DDS with content for their newly updated senior driving page: http://www.dds.ga.gov/seniors/index.aspx

The Older Driver Task force worked closely with law enforcement, DDS, and other stakeholders to develop a Driver Evaluation form (DDS 270). This form can be used by law enforcement, concerned community members, or others to initiate the medical revocation process (see DDS web page for additional details).  

Engineering: Older Driver Safety (Train-the-Trainer) Workshop - ongoing

Goal:  To address the knowledge gaps among traffic engineers and highway designers. This workshop is held annually and targets traffic engineers throughout Georgia.

Pilot Intervention- ongoing

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

CarFit program -ongoing

Goal:  To educate drivers, especially older adults on how to fit correctly and safely in their seat while driving.  It is a free educational program offered by Georgia Traffic Injury Prevention Institute in Georgia (GTIPI) 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.

Yellow Dot program – coming soon

Goal: To provide responders with critical health, identity, and emergency contact information about program participants, which will increase responders’ ability to assist older drivers and those experiencing a medical emergency at home, who are unable to communicate at the time.  Participation is voluntary, and individuals who choose to enroll are given a Yellow Dot decal to affix to a designated spot on their vehicle’s window.  The “yellow dot” indicates to responders that there is a folder in the glove compartment that contains the participant’s information. 

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 Georgia residents 65 years and older totaled more than $69 million in 2010. Prevention strategies that maintain the safety of older drivers benefit everyone.


Contact Information:

Elizabeth Head | (404) 657-2894 | Elizabeth.Head@dph.ga.gov

Georgia Older Driver Task Force

Georgia Governor's Office of Highway Safety's Older Driver Task Force.

 

Additional Resources

Resources for Older Adults and caregivers:                                    

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Resources

See the Difference – Michigan Tool to Understanding Roadway Enhancements

American Automobile Association RoadWise Prescription tool 

Florida Fitness-to-Drive Online Screening Measure

Georgia Area Agencies on Aging

Department of Driver Services, senior driving page

CarFit Program

CarFit is an educational program that offers older adults the opportunity to check how well their personal vehicles "fit" them. The CarFit program also provides information and materials on community-specific resources that could enhance their safety as drivers, and/or increase their mobility in the community.

Resources for professionals and community members

The Georgia Online Analytical Statistical Information System (OASIS).  OASIS is a suite of interactive tools used to access the Georgia Department of Public Health's standardized health data repository. OASIS and the Repository are designed, built and maintained by the Office of Health Indicators for Planning (OHIP).

FHWA Highway Design Handbook for Older Drivers and Pedestrians

This Highway Design Handbook for Older Drivers and Pedestrians provides practitioners with a practical information source that links older road user characteristics to highway design, operational, and traffic engineering recommendations by addressing specific roadway features. This Handbook supplements existing standards and guidelines in the areas of highway geometry, operations, and traffic control devices.

IIHS Status report

NHTSA report:

Occupant protection for older adults

AASHTO/NCHRP Strategic Highway Safety Plan – Volume 9: A Guide for Reducing Collisions Involving Older Drivers

Guidance for Implementation of the AASHTO Strategic Highway Safety Plan. Volume 9: A Guide for Reducing Collisions Involving Older Drivers.

AMA Physician's Guide to Assessing and Counseling Older Drivers

The safety of older drivers concerns their families and their loved ones. It also is a major public health issue. This guide provides physicians with a plan that is practical and easily administered. It also includes the legal and ethical responsibilities of the physician.

SafetyLit: Injury Research and Prevention Literature Update

SafetyLit provides abstracts of reports from researchers who work in the more than 30 professional disciplines relevant to preventing unintentional injuries, violence, and self-harm. Among these are anthropology, economics, education, engineering specialties, ergonomics and human factors, health and medicine, law and law enforcement, psychology, sociology, and other fields.