NHTSA may propose car ratings for older occupants

NHTSA may propose car ratings for older occupants

As people grow older, their needs change. They might need help getting around, help with routine tasks, and might have more difficulty driving a vehicle. As the general population gets older, there will be older drivers on the road. According to AARP, 16 percent of drivers on the road are 65 or older right now. That percentage is only expected to increase as baby boomers age.

There are components to vehicles that can make the ride safer and more comfortable for older drivers. Shorter drivers might be helped by an adjustable, telescopic steering wheel, and pedals. Pushbutton starts could help people with arthritis, and automatic seatbelts might become more popular. These types of features could be the subject of new ratings that the NHTSA might propose. These ratings could serve as a guide for older people hoping to buy a new vehicle.

While these proposals might sound like a waste of time to some people, they might help older people focus on driving and driving safely. Accidents for elderly people have the highest death rate. Many other technology changes such as lane detection and departure warning systems, and night visibility enhancement devices can help prevent accidents caused by elderly people.

Drivers have the primary responsibility in preventing car accidents. However, it is important that companies continue to innovate new ways to help prevent accidents. If a rating system is proposed, it might prompt more standard safety features to appeal to an aging driver population that could hopefully prevent more accidents.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Car safety rating system proposed for rising ranks of older drivers," Ronald D. White, April 4, 2013

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