U.S. Safety Board considers recommendations for elderly-driver population

Article by Christian Andrei, on November 17, 2010

At a forum held Tuesday in Washington on older drivers, the chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, Deborah Hersman, said that the issue of older drivers is a “rising tide” as life expectancy increases and the U.S. population ages.

The number of drivers aged 65 or older will increase to account for 15 percent to 20 percent of the driving population by 2025.

This prompted the NTSB to consider recommendations like new designs for cars and roads and testing requirements for older motorists. Hersman added that the NTSB, which issues recommendations to improve transportation safety, could use its assessment to suggest car or road designs that are safer for elderly drivers.

Hersman adds that the NTSB might also suggest medical-related considerations for licensing older drivers for whom dementia is a serious concern.

The NTSB mulled medical- and age-related causes of a 2003 accident in Santa Monica, California, where an 86-year-old man drove his vehicle through an outdoor market and killed 10 people.

Stephen Rouhana, Ford Motor Co.’s senior technical leader for safety in the passive safety research and advanced engineering department, told the NTSB that Ford developed an inflatable seat belt that could protect older drivers, who are more susceptible to chest injuries than younger drivers. [via autonews - sub. required]

Topics: united states

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