PennDOT Older Driver Safety Event

In honor of Older Driver Safety Awareness Week (December 4-8, 2017), the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and the Pennsylvania Department of Aging (PDA)  presented a public safety event “Maintaining Mobility” at Surrey Services for Seniors. Secretary of Transportation Leslie Richards and Secretary of Aging Teresa Osborne shared remarks, as well as Sara Weir from the AAA Mid-Atlantic Foundation for Safety and Education.

Older Driver Safety Awareness Week provides an opportunity to highlight safe driving practices and identify challenges unique to older Pennsylvanians. Approximately 21% of Pennsylvania’s nearly 9 million licensed drivers are age 65 or older. In 2016, there were 21,125 crashes involving drivers over the age of 65, resulting in 267 fatalities. This represents 16% of the total crashes in Pennsylvania and 22 percent of the fatalities.

Older drivers generally have fewer crashes per driver than the national average, but they have more crashes per mile of driving and are over-represented in certain types of crashes involving the most complex driving tasks, including failure to properly yield the right of way; improper left turns across traffic, and pulling out and making abrupt and improper lane changes.

“Mobility is essential to quality of life at any age,” said Secretary Richards. “Many older drivers have a lifetime of valuable driving experience to draw from, and PennDOT continually seeks to balance the safety of our roadways with the need for independence and autonomy. I’m grateful for this opportunity to share important safety information and resources that can help older Pennsylvanians stay mobile longer.”

“As Pennsylvania’s aging population continues to grow, the Wolf Administration is committed to ensuring that our seniors have the resources they need to remain active in, and connected to, their community,” said Secretary Osborne. “Whether it’s a mature driver needing to make adjustments in order to drive safely, or if it’s determined that they can no longer do so, the local Area Agency on Aging is there to assist seniors and their families with the various alternative transportation services that are available to meet their needs.”

There is a growing network of services dedicated to keeping older adults mobile, safe and engaged in their community. In fiscal year 2016-17, over 140,000 older Pennsylvanians accessed transportation services through their local Area Agencies on Aging, totaling more than 1.6 million rides. Surrey Services alone provided 16,000 rides to seniors last fiscal year.

Sara Weir, Community Educator for the AAA Mid-Atlantic Foundation for Safety and Education, discussed CarFit, an educational program created by the American Society on Aging and developed with AAA, AARP and the American Occupational Therapy Association, designed to help older drivers find out how well they currently fit their personal vehicle, to learn how they can improve their fit, and to promote conversations about driver safety and community mobility.