55+ Driver Safety Program

Funded by the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety

The Data

Aging road users have a high rate of motor vehicle fatalities compared to other adult age groups, on a per vehicle mile traveled (VMT) basis. From 2013-2017, the number of 55+ drivers killed in traffic crashed increased 44%, while the total number of drivers aged 15-54 killed in traffic crashed increased by only 36%. 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 2017, drivers 55 years of age and older were involved in 568 fatal traffic crashes in Georgia. Of those, 340 drivers 55+ year of age and older were killed

Despite high representation in the crash data, 55+ drivers are more likely to wear their seatbelts. In 2017, 34% of 55+ drivers who died in fatal crashes did NOT buckle up compared to the nearly half (42%) of drivers aged 15-54 years of age who died and were not using safety belts at the time of the crash.

The most common known contributing factor for drivers ages 55+ for both fatal was failure to yield right of way.  This includes improper left hand turns. The 2nd contributing cause for fatal crashes was overcorrecting.

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: 55+ drivers, family members, and caregivers

Partners: The 55+ Driver Safety 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
Regional Geriatric Education Center Area Agencies on Aging
Shepherd Center Georgia Vision Collaborative
Department of Drivers Services Georgia Tech Research Institute
Emory Center for Injury and Control Georgia Council on Aging
The Alzheimer’s Association Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta
Common Courtesy Association for Driver Rehabilitation Specialists
Occupational and physical therapists Non-profit and small businesses
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 55+ 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:

55+ Driver Safety Task Force

Mission Statement: Georgians:  Getting Older, Getting Wiser, Staying Mobile

Overarching Goal:  To maintain the mobility and safety of drivers 55 years of age and up, 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.

Yellow Dot Program – ongoing 

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 sticker to affix to the rear window on the driver's side.  The “yellow dot” indicates to responders that there is a folder in the glove compartment that contains the participant’s vital information. 

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.

CarFit Program -ongoing

Goal: To educate drivers, especially 55+ years of age, on how to fit correctly and safely in their seat while driving.  It is a free educational program offered by the Georgia Department of Public Health's Injury Prevention Division 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.

Department of Driver Services (DDS) Partnership - ongoing

Goal: The 55+ Driver Safety 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. 

The 55+ Driver Safety 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).  

Road Design: Engineering Roadways for an Aging Population 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.

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
Deputy Director, Injury Prevention Program
55+ Driver Safety Program Coordinator
(404) 657-2894 | Elizabeth.Head@dph.ga.gov

Jim Kelly
55+ Driver Safety Program Consultant
jim.kelly@dph.ga.gov

Page last updated 11/22/2019