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New Study Focuses on Specific Accident Risks Facing Senior Citizens

With the proportion of senior motorists across the country and on Atlanta roads expected to balloon over the next couple of decades, it’s not surprising that leading auto safety groups in the country are turning their attention to senior motorist safety. The AAA Foundation recently announced that it is investing in research that focuses on accident risks involving senior motorists.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is investing $12 million in the study into the driving behaviors of senior motorists. Researchers at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health will specifically investigate factors that affect senior motorist safety while driving. Those factors include prescription drug use that could impair a motorist’s driving abilities and increase the risk of drowsy driving accidents, as well as the impact of deteriorating vision on senior drivers.

As part of the study, drivers between the ages of 65 and 79 will be recruited in several states around the country. Researchers will fit these motorists’ cars with GPS devices to monitor and observe driving patterns. The researchers will use the data that emerges from the study to analyze senior driving patterns and devise solutions to core safety problems.

There is very little we know about the effects of aging on a person’s driving abilities. Much of the existing information that we currently have is based on old data, and new studies will need to investigate the effect of increased auto safety technology on senior motorists’ accident risks. For example, it is still not clear what type of safety technologies will benefit senior motorists the most. Considering that the senior driver population is likely to increase substantially over the next 20 years, it’s important to determine what kind of safety technology seniors can install in their cars to reduce accident risks. For instance, seniors may specifically benefit from rearview cameras, warning signals or alerts, and navigation systems.

Physicians are aware that certain medications may impact senior driving abilities. However, there has been very little progress made in identifying ways that those risks can be reduced, through support services, and other methods. These issues must be investigated as well.

If you were have a loved one that is advancing in years, try to open a conversation about them about the right time to stop driving and what can be done to ensure they have independence once that is done.