Feds To Study How Advanced Vehicle Technology, Dementia Affects Older Drivers | Edmunds

Feds To Study How Advanced Vehicle Technology, Dementia Affects Older Drivers


Just the Facts:
  • Federal safety regulators laid out a new strategic plan on Thursday that will look at the effects of advanced vehicle technology and dementia on senior drivers.
  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will study vehicle-to-vehicle communications and collision-avoidance systems that could reduce the risk of death or injury to older occupants in the event of a crash.
  • NHTSA will also conduct clinical and "naturalistic" driving studies to better understand the effects of age-related medical conditions, including dementia.

WASHINGTON — Federal safety regulators laid out a new strategic plan on Thursday that will look at the effects of advanced vehicle technology and dementia on senior drivers.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will study vehicle-to-vehicle communications and collision-avoidance systems that could reduce the risk of death or injury to older occupants in the event of a crash. Federal safety regulators say that crash-avoidance technologies may be of "special assistance to older drivers."

NHTSA will also conduct clinical and "naturalistic" driving studies to better understand the effects of age-related medical conditions, including dementia.

"Safety is our highest priority and that includes ensuring the safety of our older drivers who represent a growing population on our roads," said Anthony Foxx, U.S. Transportation Secretary, in a statement posted on the NHTSA Web site.

According to the latest government statistics, 5,560 people over the age of 65 died and 214,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes in 2012. That represents a 3 percent increase in the number of fatalities and a 16 percent increase in the number of injuries from the previous year.

The Alzheimer's Association says that driving demands quick reaction time and fast decision-making.

"Because of this, a person with Alzheimer's will eventually become unable to drive," the association said. "Dealing with the issue early on can help ease the transition."

Edmunds says: In the meantime, older car shoppers may want to take advantage of the current crop of cars equipped with the latest crash-avoidance systems — if they can afford them.

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