The American populace is getting older, and that means more senior citizens behind the wheel in the coming years. According to a study commissioned by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, people over the age of 65 already make up 17 percent of the driving population, and 68 percent of those over 85 are still on the road five or more days per week. However, new research indicates that older folks understand that there's a concern about their safety as drivers, and the study suggests they are willing to accept measures that could potentially keep them off the highways.

The analysis gathered its data from surveys collected between 2011 and 2013 of over 10,000 people, resulting in 1,793 respondents 65 or older and split them into three groups: 65-69, 70-74 and 75+. When asked about laws that would require those over 75 to renew their license in person and pass a medical screening upon renewal, the older drivers supported both measures by over 70 percent. In fact, those 75 and older were most in favor of both. All three age brackets also generally favored tougher driving laws in general on infractions like speeding, cell phone use and driving under the influence.

Seniors appear largely to be safe drivers, as well. Around 90 percent of all the groups had no moving violations or crashes in the last two years, although all of the results were self-reported and could have been somewhat skewed.

"As older adults live longer and spend more time behind the wheel, it's promising to see a trend towards a more pro-safety culture with increasing age," said Jake Nelson, AAA's director of traffic safety advocacy and research, in the organization's announcement. This investigation is just the beginning for AAA; it's also conducting a five-year study with 3,000 seniors to examine their driving habits. Scroll down to read the complete press release about the analysis or check out all of the data for yourself here, in PDF format.
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Senior Drivers Support Tougher Driving Laws for Themselves

Latest AAA Foundation Report on Aging Americans Finds Surprising Results

Washington, D.C., (Dec. 1, 2014) – While senior drivers favor tougher driving laws, from bans on wireless devices to ignitions interlocks for first time DUI offenders, an overwhelming majority support greater scrutiny in the license-renewal process for themselves and their peers, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety's latest report on aging Americans. More than seven out of 10 drivers age 65 and older favor policies that require drivers age 75 and older to renew their license in person and also support requirements that seniors pass a medical screening to remain licensed.
The AAA Foundation's report Older American Drivers and Traffic Safety Culture also found:

Nearly 80 percent of drivers over age 75 favor medical screenings for drivers ages 75 and older

Nearly 90 percent of older drivers (65 and older) reported no crashes in the last two years

Similarly, 90 percent of older drivers reported no moving violations

65 percent of drivers age 75 and older reported never using a cell phone while driving compared to only 48 percent of the younger "older" drivers (those age 65-69) who never use a phone when behind the wheel

"Even though public perception tends to unfairly characterize seniors as a menace on the road, these findings indicate that older Americans tend to support policies to keep themselves safer behind the wheel, making them key allies in their mission to keep driving–smarter and longer." says Peter Kissinger, President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. "

Earlier this year, the AAA Foundation also released the Understanding Older Drivers: an Examination of Medical Conditions, Medication Use and Travel Behaviors report that found:

86 percent of those age 65 and older still drive

84 percent of Americans age 65 and older hold a driver's license compared to barely half in the early 1970s

68 percent of drivers age 85 plus report driving five or more days a week

In addition to these reports, the AAA Foundation is currently taking a long-term look at aging drivers with a study that will systematically monitor the driving habits of more than 3,000 senior drivers over the next five years.

"With nearly nine out of ten seniors aged 65 and older still driving, it appears that additional years behind the wheel not only make drivers older, but wiser," said Jake Nelson, AAA's director of traffic safety advocacy and research. "As older adults live longer and spend more time behind the wheel, it's promising to see a trend towards a more pro-safety culture with increasing age."

The AAA Foundation and AAA are promoting these latest findings to support Older Driver Safety Awareness Week, which is December 1-5, 2014. Established by the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), this week aims to promote understanding of the importance of mobility and transportation to ensure older adults remain active in the community and that transportation will not be the barrier stranding them at home. You can learn more about the AOTA here.

As North America's largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Established by AAA in 1947, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a 501(c) (3) not-for-profit, publicly-supported charitable educational and research organization. Dedicated to saving lives and reducing injuries on our roads, the Foundation's mission is to prevent crashes and save lives through research and education about traffic safety. The Foundation has funded over 200 research projects designed to discover the causes of traffic crashes, prevent them, and minimize injuries when they do occur. Visit www.aaafoundation.org for more information on this and other research.


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