The New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA) recognizes Older Driver Safety Awareness Week, which takes place this year from December 2 through December 6. The weeklong annual awareness campaign promotes understanding of the importance mobility and transportation are to ensuring that older adults remain connected to their communities.
“For most New Yorkers, driving is an essential part of staying connected to our communities—visiting family and friends, and getting to work, the supermarket, pharmacy, and the doctor’s office, among others, so It is important for older drivers and their caregivers to develop an action plan to help ensure they stay safe behind the wheel,” said Acting Director Greg Olsen. “New York recognizes that transportation access is critical—it enables older adults to stay connected to the vital community resources they need to remain healthy and engaged, and furthers our commitment as the first age-friendly state in the nation.”
There are currently 4.3 million older adults in New York State, and that number is expected to increase to 5.3 million over the next decade. As the older population grows, so too will the number of older drivers on the road.
Older adults, as a group, are among the safest drivers on the roads. Drivers over age 55 are involved in fewer crashes, and per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are more likely to observe safer driving behaviors. However, older drivers are also more likely to be killed or injured in traffic crashes due to age-related vulnerabilities, such as more fragile bones, prescription medication use, and chronic medical conditions. Except for teen drivers, older drivers have the highest crash death rate per mile driven, even though they drive fewer miles than younger people.
The Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research data show that older drivers were involved in 190 fatal crashes in 2018. Preliminary data indicate that number has dropped to 118 fatal crashes in 2019. This 38 percent decline illustrates the importance of encouraging ongoing traffic safety for older drivers.
In 2015, NYSOFA and the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee launched the Safe Driving Tips for Older New Yorkers website to promote older driver safety. The site encourages the use of online and in-person safety training and car safety check programs; provides information to help older drivers understand options for roadway safety; and offers a user-friendly guide about preventing adverse drug interactions that can affect one’s ability to drive.
Older drivers are also encouraged to contact NY Connects at 800-342-9871 to learn about transportation alternatives in their communities.
Other valuable resources for older drivers and caregivers:
- Throughout Older Driver Safety Awareness Week the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) brings attention to a different aspect of older driver safety, including offering tips on anticipating changes that can affect driving, family conversations, screening and evaluations, and interventions that can empower older drivers and help them remain engaged in their communities.
- Roadwise Rx – This online tool helps determine if any prescription drugs you’re taking are affecting your driving abilities. Individuals can enter the names of medications and find out if and how side effects could affect driving safety. Information is completely confidential and cannot be viewed by any other party.
- The Department of Motor Vehicles' Older Driver Resources web page provides information about driving skills and programs, health tips, license FAQs, vehicle safety tips, and more.
- CarFit is an educational program that provides older adults the opportunity to check how well their personal vehicles ‘fit’ them, as well as information and materials on community-specific resources.
About the New York State Office for the Aging and Health Across All Policies/Age-Friendly New York
New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA) continuously works to help New York State’s 4.3 million older adults be as independent as possible for as long as possible through advocacy, development and delivery of person-centered, consumer-oriented, and cost-effective policies, programs, and services that support and empower older adults and their families, in partnership with the network of public and private organizations that serve them.
New York is nationally recognized for being the first age-friendly state in the nation. Using the state’s Prevention Agenda as the overarching framework, in 2017, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo launched a Health Across All Policies approach, where public and private partners work together to positively impact population health by marrying health care, preventive health, and community-design, in concert with addressing social determinants of health, to improve the lives of all New Yorkers, young and old.
Stay connected—download the NYSOFA mobile app for iOS or Android; visit the NYSOFA Facebook page; follow @NYSAGING on Twitter; or visit www.aging.ny.gov.