Guest Blogger – Jane Rath serves as the Project Director for the Clearinghouse on Older Road User Safety (ChORUS). She works closely with NHTSA, the ChORUS subject matter experts and other partners to increase awareness and enhance services and programs aimed at improving older road user safety.
Older Driver Safety Awareness Week, December 5-9, 2022, aims to promote older drivers’ safety. In 2020, there were more than 55.7 million people 65 years and older in the United States, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Older drivers (65+) tend to be safe drivers but they are also a highly at-risk population. People 65 and older made up 17% of all traffic fatalities in 2020. Two out of three fatal older driver crashes involved other vehicles; consequently, improving older drivers’ safety on the road can also help keep those around the older driver safer. Behind the wheel is one way older road users share our roadways. They are also walking, biking, riding motorcycles, or even as passengers in public transit or shared transportation (for example, taxis or Uber).
Older Driver Safety Awareness Week is the perfect opportunity to promote older driver safety and older adults’ mobility and transportation needs. The Clearinghouse for Older Road User Safety (ChORUS), funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, provides a centralized, user-friendly website for professionals and individuals to find resources encouraging and supporting older driver traffic safety.
Changes to cognitive, physical, and visual capabilities occur naturally as we age, which contribute to the many factors impacting older adult safety on the road. ChORUS recognizes that aging is a continuum along which we each travel at our own pace. For some, early-onset Alzheimer’s or other medical conditions may impact our safe driving at 65 or even younger. Others may find they do not need to make any changes well into their 70’s or 80’s, if at all. Regardless of when we might need to make changes in our driving and transportation habits, planning ahead will always make the journey easier. When traveling to a distant destination, we ensure that we have mapped out our route, know the stops along the way, and what we need to bring to make sure the trip is smooth and enjoyable. The same forethought applies when planning for potential changes in driving as we age.
ChORUS offers guides for older adults, family members/caregivers, state driver licensing agencies; access to resources and services at MyStateInfo; and other resources that provide tools and resources to support mobility management and transportation planning. The guides provide such resources as knowing the signs for when a change in driving habits might be necessary, how to prepare for the conversation, and more. The transportation planning tool is a new ChORUS resource that helps older adults develop their to-do list, itemizing the actions they can take to improve traffic safety. The transportation planning tool can also be used by those counseling older adults to guide the older driver through the planning process.
While none of us look forward to giving up our car keys, it is important to be prepared before the moment arrives. In addition to planning, ChORUS provides access to information about alternate transportation services in your community. Knowing what is in the community – and learning how to use it before it is a necessity – is a great first step in transportation planning. This might include public transportation (buses or trains), car services (such as taxis, Uber, and Lyft), transportation services available through community programs, and those transportation services that Medicare/Medicaid might cover. Seeking this information out before it is a necessity can also identify when advocating for services in your community might be warranted. NADTC has resources and models of outstanding programs that can provide the foundation for communities looking to enhance their mobility options for older adults.
While Older Driver Safety Awareness Week shines a light on the need for safe mobility, seeking ways to support older adult traffic safety should be a year-long commitment. ChORUS is here to help see that commitment through. Be sure to visit our website, check out our guides, use the transportation planning tool, register for news and updates, and follow-us on social media (Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn).
 S0103: POPULATION 65 YEARS AND OVER… – Census Bureau Table
 National Center for Statistics and Analysis. (2022, July). Older population: 2020 data (Traffic Safety Facts. Report No. DOT HS 813 341). National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
 National Center for Statistics and Analysis. (2022, July). Older population: 2020 data (Traffic Safety Facts. Report No. DOT HS 813 341). National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.)