Government Agency Suggests a Rating System for Elderly Drivers — Will it Reduce the Number of Car Accidents in Fort Lauderdale and Florida?Saturday, June 15th, 2013
This past month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration posted an online request seeking comments about a rating system for older customers. The suggested “Silver Car Rating System for Older Occupants” would be part of the NHTSA New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) and would help older customers look at safety information about new cars. The rating system would address issues of car performance that are not evaluated by the NCAP under current guidelines – issues that could affect older drivers and passengers.
The NHTSA asked the public whether there “Are there aspects of vehicle performance, currently not evaluated by NCAP that would particularly address the needs of older vehicle occupants?” Depending on the responses received, the NHTSA may change their NCAP system to address the needs of older car buyers.
The AARP reports that 16% of drivers on the country’s roads are 65 or older and by 2025 one in five drivers in the US will fall into that age category. Currently, elderly drivers have the highest fatality rates in car accidents.
Experts agree that seniors may face a number of issues that specific issues that could be addressed by specific car features:
1) Adjustable gas and brake pedals and telescoping steering columns are useful for drivers who are shorter or have mobility issues. Mobility issues among elderly drivers may cause car accidents in Fort Lauderdale and other communities, according to experts. The elderly are also more prone to osteoporosis and other illnesses which can affect height. However, many cars are made for taller drivers and may not always provide the correct adjustment’s for drivers who are under 5’3”. Making more customizable steering columns and pedals would help, some experts believe.
2) Automatic seatbelts, easy-to-grasp steering wheels, pushbutton start systems, and thick steering wheels are good features for drivers who suffer from arthritis and for those with mobility issues. Features such as these would make it easier to use safety systems and to operate a car safely, potentially reducing the risk of traffic accidents in Fort Lauderdale and other communities.
3) Larger writing on the dashboard and other systems is useful for those with vision problems. Unfortunately, current car designs feature more and more useful dials and features on the dash. In many cases, this means that each individual button and components needs to be smaller so that all the features can fit. Sleeker car designs also tend to favor smaller buttons and labels on the dash. This can make it harder for elderly and vision-impaired drivers to see everything on the dashboard, especially at night. Enhancing the visibility of the dashboard features can potentially help reduce car and truck accidents in Fort Lauderdale and other communities. Ensuring that the lights on a dashboard are easily adjustable (to reduce glare during night time driving) can also be a useful design feature.