Driving is an important and useful tool when it comes to independent living. It enables individuals to go about their daily tasks, whether that’s grocery shopping, visiting family and friends or engaging in a hobby or activity. Lately, older drivers have been targeted in many conversations, one of which is a discussion about at what age they should no longer continue to be on the road.
A new article states that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is suggesting two new safety ratings that are geared toward old drivers and families. Michael Cerussi, a driver education instructor who owns Cerussi Driving School, has lent his support to the proposal of new vehicle safety ratings that focus specifically on elderly drivers. On its website, the NHTSA explains that it is working on developing a “silver” rating that would review the safety of the car for an older driver.
The NHTSA notes that the rating would be an addition to the current NCAP five-star safety ratings, which were developed in 1978. Any changes to the NCAP system could take up to three or four years to be put into place.
Recently, there has been an influx of older drivers, often referred to as “the silver tsunami.” AARP notes that 16 percent of licensed drivers in America are over the age of 65. By 2025, the organization expects that one in five U.S. drivers will be 65 or older. By 2030, 57 million elderly drivers will take the road, as opposed to only 37 million today.
According to Statistics Canada, in 2009, 3.25 million people aged 65 and over had a driver’s licence—three-quarters of all seniors. Of that number, about 200,000 were aged 85 and over. Since people in their 80s and over are, and will continue to be, a fast-growing segment of the senior population, the number of elderly drivers will also continue to increase at a rapid pace.
The proposed silver rating for older drivers is necessary, NHTSA said, because older vehicle occupants are usually less able to endure crash forces than younger drivers. The silver rating aims to help these motorists find information that can enable them to purchase a car that protects them more effectively.
“Older drivers have a different set of needs than younger people,” Cerussi said in a statement. “While a young person may want a car with a high-quality sound system or a built-in navigation system, cars for elderly individuals should focus on keeping these people safe as they take the road. This information will prove useful to older drivers and their families.”