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Current Status Of Elderly Drivers And Concurrent Statistics In The United States Of America

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

New Approaches & Techniques in Engineering I

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.381.1 - 10.381.22



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Paper Authors

author page

Fazil Najafi

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Najafi, Haddad, Perdomo, and Hollis 2


Grandmothers, grandfathers, great aunts and uncles, even mothers and fathers; everyone can relate to these titles because they are people in everyone’s family. They are the elderly family members which should be respected for their wisdom and trusted for their experiences; however, most of the time the elderly generation of today are put into institutions, ignored, and robbed of most of their civil liberties. It is no wonder that the elderly hold on to their driver licenses so dearly; it is the one thing that gives them the sense of importance, freedom, and independence. Traffic engineering’s five objectives are speed, comfort, convenience, economy, and environmental compatibility. Thousands of studies are done each year to achieve the optimum of each of these objectives. Studies have been made on speed, perception reaction time, crash rates, fatality rates, as well as human characteristics that are unique to each individual. Although there are various subject areas that are studied and tested in transportation, the results can mostly be separated by age groups. The age group that has especially been targeted is that of the elderly (65+ years of age). They have been targeted by the traffic authorities for the objectives of comfort and convenience, especially in the states with high percentages of elderly population. Due to the altered physical and mental capabilities (such as vision, hearing, health, and judgment/reaction time) of the older population, traffic officials in certain areas of the United States have changed certain parameters in road design to accommodate (i.e. or to increase the comfort and convenience for) the needs of the elderly in all facets of transportation; whether it be as a pedestrian, a passenger, or a driver. The parameters that have been implemented have also been studied since implementation. Those studies reflect on how different cities and states have used or not used the parameters and their effectiveness on traffic. Still there is a great diversity among states regarding how elderly drivers are considered and accommodated. Greater emphasis on implementation of programs to aid elderly drivers and on consistency among state requirements for elderly drivers is needed.


Elderly Drivers, Safety


According to USA today, there are about 19.9 million drivers in the USA that are age 70 or older. This figure increased 32% from 1991 to 2001 and is expected to continue as millions of baby boomers reach retirement age in the next decade (1). This finding indicates urgency in addressing older drivers. Driving is a privilege and not a right. Drivers must be competent and capable of safely operating a motor vehicle. However, as age increases so do health and mental problems that significantly affect a driver's ability. A high profile accident in July 16, 2003, involving an 86 year-old driver who careened into a crowd killing 10 people has brought the issue to national attention. The cause of the crash was unintentional acceleration due to the driver pressing on the accelerator instead of the brake (2). Statistics from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety indicate that drivers 85 and older are about as likely to be involved in a fatal crash as those ages 16 to 19 but drive fewer miles (3). Recently movement has begun to ensure that elderly drivers meet minimum standards for vision, health, and judgment/reaction time. Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia have

Najafi, F. (2005, June), Current Status Of Elderly Drivers And Concurrent Statistics In The United States Of America Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14963

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