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News Release: New Report Highlighting Importance of Safety for Mature Road Users

For Immediate Release

Contact:  Bruce Hamilton, 202-857-1200, brucehamilton@highways.org

(WASHINGTON, DC) – Today the American Highway Users Alliance commended TRIP, a national non-profit transportation research group based in Washington, D.C., on the release of its timely and much-needed snapshot of the current state of affairs related to safety for the nation’s mature road users.

The report, “Preserving the Mobility and Safety of Older Americans,” finds that fatalities in crashes involving at least one driver age 65 or older have outpaced the overall increase in U.S. traffic deaths from 2012 – 2016 (the most recent years for which complete data are available). Compared to the 11 percent increase in total highway fatalities during this time, deaths in crashes involving drivers 65 and older increased 22 percent. Importantly, this statistic includes crashes in which at least one driver age 65 or over was present, but not necessarily at-fault.

“This report is a critical reminder that the issues of safety and mobility for the nation’s seniors must be a top priority for policymakers and transportation officials,” said Greg Cohen, President and CEO of the American Highway Users Alliance, an organization that advocates on behalf of motorists, truckers, and other drivers. “We congratulate TRIP on bringing this new data to the forefront as the country contemplates and negotiates the future of our national infrastructure.”

The timing of the report coincides with ongoing debate surrounding numerous proposals that have been put forth by the Administration and by lawmakers to invest in the country’s roads, bridges, and other crucial infrastructure. While no concrete legislative timeline has emerged, Cohen stressed that now is the time to capitalize on the new data.

“We urge Congress and the Administration to carefully consider TRIP’s findings as their work on an infrastructure bill continues,” Cohen said. “The Baby Boomers built most of the highways, bridges and tunnels that today we take for granted, and we must do better at being good stewards of these assets.”

The Highway Users noted that there are many infrastructure-oriented opportunities to keep older drivers safe and mobile. Bright signs and pavement markings, dedicated turning lanes and signal phases, adequately timed pedestrian crossing countdowns, and contiguous sidewalks are among the many approaches that can keep all road users safe. Additionally, since the greatest threat facing older drivers is frailty that makes crash survival more difficult – as opposed to a greater likelihood of crashing to begin with – countermeasures like rumble strips and median barriers that prevent or mitigate crashes are especially effective.

In addition to providing a national summary, the report also provided state-level findings. Florida, Texas, and California topped the lists of states with the highest number of licensed drivers ages 65 and older, and the highest number of fatalities in crashes involving this age group. Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Kansas, by contrast, saw the highest share of their fatalities occurring in crashes that involved an older driver.

Given the known links between mobility, quality of life, and healthy aging, TRIP recommends a comprehensive approach that includes investing in safer roads, expanding training and education opportunities for older drivers, and providing accessible and secure alternative forms of transportation for those who cannot drive. Additionally, the report sees strong potential for automated and connected vehicles to greatly expand mobility options for all Americans in the future.

Founded in 1971, TRIP is a nonprofit organization that researches, evaluates and distributes economic and technical data on surface transportation issues.  It is sponsored by numerous sectors concerned with efficient and safe surface transportation.

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The American Highway Users Alliance represents motorists, RV enthusiasts, truckers, bus companies, motorcyclists, and a broad cross-section of businesses that depend on safe and efficient highways to transport their families, customers, employees, and products. Highway Users members pay the taxes that finance the federal highway program and advocate public policies that dedicate those taxes to improved highway safety and mobility.

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