AAA Report: Senior drivers support tougher driving laws

An overwhelming majority of senior drivers support tougher driving laws for older drivers, according to a AAA Foundation study on aging Americans.

From bans on wireless devices to ignition interlocks for first-time DUI offenders, more than seven out of 10 drivers age 65 and older support greater scrutiny of the license-renewal process for themselves and their peers, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s latest report on aging Americans.

The report, Older American Drivers and Traffic Safety Culture, is being released during National Older Drivers Safety Awareness Week this week to call attention to the fact that older drivers are living longer and driving longer than ever before.

According to the report, nearly 80% of the drivers over 75 also support policies that would require drivers age 75 and older to renew their licenses in person as well as support requirements that seniors, in order to remain licensed, pass a medical screening.

The report also found that:

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

• Similarly, 90% of older drivers reported no moving violations; and

• 65% of drivers age 75 and older report they never use a cell phone while driving compared to only 48% 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 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 Lloyd Albert, AAA Southern New England’s senior vice president of public and government affairs.

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

• 86% of those age 65 and older still drive;

• 84% of Americans age 65 and older hold a driver’s license compared to barely half in the early 1970s; and

• 68% 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 10 seniors aged 65 and older still driving, it appears that additional years behind the wheel not only make drivers older, but wiser,” said Mr. Albert. “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 Dec. 1-5. 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.