Archive for the ‘Advocacy’ Category

AAA Foundation study shows increased risk of depression and entry into long-term care facilities among former older drivers

ORLANDO, Fla., (July 23, 2015) – Older adults who have stopped driving are almost two times more likely to suffer from depression and nearly five times as likely to enter a long-term care facility than those who remain behind the wheel, according to a new report released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and Columbia University.  The study examined older adults who have permanently given up driving and the impact it has on their health and mental well-being. The importance of understanding the effects this lifestyle change has on older adults is essential, as the number of drivers aged 65 and older continues to increase in the United States with nearly 81 percent of the 39.5 million seniors in this age group still behind the wheel.

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“This comprehensive review of research confirmed the consequences of driving cessation in older adults,” Peter Kissinger, President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “The decision to stop driving, whether voluntary or involuntary, appears to contribute to a variety of health problems for seniors, particularly depression as social circles are greatly reduced.”

The AAA Foundation’s report on Driving Cessation and Health Outcomes for Older Adults examined declines in general health and physical, social, and cognitive functions in former drivers. With the cessation of driving, the study found:

  • Diminished productivity and low participation in daily life activities outside of the home;
  • Risk of depression nearly doubled;
  • 51 percent reduction in the size of social networks over a 13-year period;
  • Accelerated decline in cognitive ability over a 10-year period; and former drivers were
  • Five times as likely to be admitted to a long term care facility.

The latest report in the AAA Foundation’s Longitudinal Research on Aging Drivers (LongROAD) project, Driving Cessation and Health Outcomes for Older Adults consisted of a systemic literature review of previously published studies pertinent to the health consequences of driving cessation. Sixteen studies met the criteria for inclusion. The full report can be viewed here.

“Maintaining independence by continuing to drive safely is important to overall health and well-being. When the decision is made to relinquish the keys, it is vital to mitigate the potential negative effects through participation in programs that allow seniors to remain mobile and socially connected,” said Kissinger.

As a leading advocate for senior driver safety AAA provides many programs and resources for senior drivers including Roadwise Review. Roadwise Review Online is a free, confidential; screening/self-assessment tool developed by AAA to help older driver’s measure certain mental and physical abilities important for safe driving. In as little as 30 minutes, users can identify and get further guidance on the physical and mental skills that need improvement—all in the privacy of their own home.

For more information on all the free resources AAA offers to older drivers, visit SeniorDriving.AAA.com.

Established by AAA in 1947, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit, publicly-supported charitable educational and research organization. Dedicated to saving lives and reducing injuries on our roads, the Foundation’s mission is to prevent crashes and save lives through research and education about traffic safety. The Foundation has funded over 200 research projects designed to discover the causes of traffic crashes, prevent them and minimize injuries when they do occur.  Visit www.AAAFoundation.org for more information on this and other research.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 55 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Yolanda CadeORLANDO, Fla., (July 1, 2015) – AAA is pleased  to announce the appointment of Marshall L. Doney  as its new President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), effective July 1, 2015. As CEO of AAA’s National Office, Doney will head the national office for the federation which is comprised of 43 affiliated clubs with 55 million members in the United States and Canada. Doney will take over for long time CEO Bob Darbelnet.

Doney has been the President and Chief Operating Officer for the past two years and successfully oversaw the organization’s automotive initiatives as the Vice President of Automotive Services from 1996 until his appointment as President and COO two years ago.  Doney is a respected and proven leader who is known for his collaborative leadership style and building high performance teams across the AAA association.

Doney succeeds Bob Darbelnet, who led the organization through several decades of growth and innovation. Darbelnet retired from AAA on July 1 after serving the organization for 42 years and in the capacity of AAA president and CEO since November 1994, after 11 years as CEO of CAA-Quebec.

Marshall L. Doney began his AAA career in 1984 as Assistant District Manager at AAA Wisconsin. He joined the AAA National Office in 1991 as Director, Strategic Planning and Research, then moved to AAA New York as the Director of Marketing and Service Quality. He rejoined the AAA National Office in 1996 in the role of Vice President, Automotive Services. With 30 years of diverse experience working with AAA clubs and the national office, Marshall Doney is well positioned for his role as Chief Executive Officer.

Reflecting on his appointment, Doney said: “I am honored and excited to have been selected by the AAA Board of Directors to continue AAA’s momentum and to lead this well-respected, member-centric organization during a time in our existence where automotive technology is changing faster than ever before.”

A graduate of Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Doney holds both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business administration.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 55 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

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AAA Supports Bipartisan Transportation Bill

June 24th, 2015 by Amanda Shapiro

Michael Green Contact Tile(WASHINGTON, June 24, 2015) AAA has released the following statement by Kathleen Bower, vice president of public affairs and international relations:

“AAA applauds the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee for quickly moving their bipartisan transportation reauthorization bill. This legislation is essential to repairing and improving our nation’s transportation infrastructure for the tens of millions of drivers who rely on roads and bridges every day. It is now up to the Senate Commerce, Banking and Finance Committees to follow the EPW Committee’s lead and act swiftly on their portions of the bill so this legislation can move to the Senate floor for debate before the current extension expires on July 31.

“How to fund a long-term transportation bill continues to be the ‘$100 billion question’ for our leaders in Congress. AAA, along with a broad coalition of stakeholders, supports an increase to the federal gas tax as the most viable, effective and immediate solution, provided the additional funds are invested in transportation improvements that benefit motorists. We urge Chairman Hatch and Ranking Member Wyden to commit to a vote on this solution in addition to the other funding mechanisms that will be considered by their committee.”

Michael Green Contact TileWASHINGTON, D.C, (March 30, 2015) – AAA’s CEO Bob Darbelnet has issued the following statement in response to the Department of Transportation’s introduction of the GROW America Act today, a bill to fund transportation and infrastructure improvements over six years.

“As states begin springtime road construction projects, AAA is pleased that Secretary Foxx and President Obama have put forward a blueprint for improving the nation’s roads and bridges. This transportation and infrastructure proposal promises to keep America globally competitive in a rapidly changing world.

“The goals of the GROW AMERICA Act are commendable.  For example, additional funding for NHTSA and its vehicle recall program should enhance driver safety. Improving performance incentives to maintain the quality of the nation’s roads and bridges should also help to restore driver confidence that highways are managed wisely and efficiently.

“Despite these improvements, we are disappointed the bill fails to identify a long-term and viable funding source to address the Highway Trust Fund shortfall.  Repatriation of corporate overseas profits might provide an infusion of money for construction and repairs, but it’s a temporary solution that does not solve our funding crisis.

“AAA continues to believe that increasing the federal gas tax is the most effective and sustainable way to pay for roads and bridges in the near term, provided the additional funds are invested in improvements that ease congestion and increase safety.”

Michael Green Contact Tile(WASHINGTON, Jan. 26, 2015) AAA, the American Trucking Associations and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce delivered a joint letter to Congress today in support of increased transportation funding.

Dear Members of the 114th Congress,

AAA, the American Trucking Associations, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce welcome you for the 114th Congress. Our organizations are committed to improving our nation’s infrastructure system and look forward to working with you to fully fund the roads and bridges that are the backbone of American mobility and competitiveness.

Americans are frustrated with our nation’s crumbling infrastructure, including increasingly congested highways and deficient roads and bridges. Thirty-two percent of major roads are in poor or mediocre condition. This neglect costs the average driver $324 each year in additional vehicle repairs and operating costs. Commutes between home and work are longer than ever before, and the average American spends 38 hours each year stuck in traffic. Furthermore, congestion on the Interstate System alone costs freight trucks more than 141 million hours in wasted time, equivalent to 51,000 drivers sitting idle for a working year.

Fortunately, there is a simple solution to address this issue in the near-term: raise the federal fuels user fee, provided the funds are used to ease congestion and improve safety. While the impact of insufficient funding is evident, how we got here is not always clear. With this in mind, our organizations have put together an educational infographic on the Highway Trust Fund to serve as a primer for lawmakers and the general public as the funding of roads and bridges is considered this spring. That infographic can be found here.

There are many challenges that Congress must address this year, but we believe that finding a solution for funding the Highway Trust Fund is at the top of that list. Rather than continuing to resort to short-term funding patches that only delay tough decisions, our organizations support action to address the issue pragmatically, immediately and sustainably. While no one wants to pay more, we urge you to support an increase to the federal fuels user fee, provided the funds are used to ease congestion and improve safety, because it is the most cost efficient and straightforward way to provide a steady revenue stream to the Highway Trust Fund.

The last increase to the federal user fee for gasoline was 1993. Since then, inflation, increased fuel economy, and rising costs associated with labor and construction, have eroded the user fee’s purchasing power. Congress must act to provide a reliable revenue stream to support jobs, address maintenance needs and provide Americans with a safe and efficient transportation system. Congress has patched the Highway Trust Fund five times since 2008, continuing to kick the can further down the road, and now faces yet another looming shortfall in the Highway Trust Fund with current funding set to expire on May 31.

Thank you again for your time and consideration and we look forward to continuing to work together to address the funding needs of our nation’s transportation system.

Sincerely

AAA, American Trucking Associations and U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Michael Green Contact Tile(WASHINGTON, Jan. 20, 2015) – AAA CEO Robert Darbelnet has released the following statement in response to President Obama’s State of the Union Address.

“The state of our nation’s transportation infrastructure is deteriorating, and without significant investment it will only worsen. President Obama has outlined numerous legislative priorities tonight – from making community colleges more accessible to national energy production and efficiency initiatives – but a key part of our overall economic success will depend on a reliable network to get people to school and transport new products to factories and stores.

“The President’s proposal to leverage corporate tax reform or private investment structures to support transportation funding would provide a welcome shot in the arm for our nation’s infrastructure, but this will not provide a sustainable fix to the looming funding crisis at hand.

“We have a tremendous opportunity with gas prices hitting multi-year lows to invest a portion of these savings to properly fund our transportation system. The user fee for gasoline – often called the “gas tax” – has not increased in more than two decades; yet long-overdue action to restore funding lost to inflation is finally gaining interest on Capitol Hill.

“AAA continues to advocate for an increase to this user fee as the most effective and efficient way to fund our transportation system, provided the money is used to ease congestion and improve safety.

“We can only hope that the promise of bipartisanship and collaboration prevails so that we can achieve a sustainable and reliable long-term funding solution.”​

American Drivers Unfazed and Confused on Drugged Driving

December 29th, 2014 by Amanda Shapiro

AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety Survey Reveals High Tolerance for Drug-Impaired Drivers

Erin SteppWASHINGTON (December 29, 2014) – With the recent legalization of recreational marijuana use in Colorado, Alaska, Oregon, Washington and the District of Columbia, safety advocates are increasingly concerned that drugged drivers pose a very serious threat to the safety of American road users.  New research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that nearly half of Americans share this concern and report feeling that drug-impaired drivers are a bigger problem today compared to three years ago. With 85 percent of Americans supporting marijuana-impairment laws, the survey reveals that while there’s awareness of this serious issue, Americans are unclear on impairment thresholds, safety implications and legal ramifications.

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“While all states prohibit driving under the influence of drugs, there’s significant variation in the minimum acceptable levels of marijuana or its traces in a driver’s system,” said Peter Kissinger, President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “Sixteen states forbid any presence of prohibited drugs, while five others have specific limits for marijuana. With a lack of uniformity, it’s no surprise we found that more than half of American drivers are unaware of the laws that exist in their state.”

The Foundation’s annual Traffic Safety Culture Index also revealed that, compared to alcohol, American drivers are significantly less concerned about the threat of drug impairment behind the wheel. The survey found that while two-thirds feel that those who drive after drinking alcohol pose a “very serious” threat to their personal safety, just over half feel the same way about drug use.  In fact, one-in-six Americans report that, where they live, most people feel it’s acceptable to drive one hour after using marijuana.

“Federal government research suggests that marijuana can impair driving performance for up to 3 hours,” warned Kissinger.  “Decreased car handling performance, increased reaction times and sleepiness have all been documented driver impairments that result from marijuana use.”

When it comes to prescription drug use and driving, Americans report feeling even less concerned, with just over a quarter reporting feeling the same “very serious” threat to their personal safety.  However, many of these drugs, along with over-the-counter medications, can impair a driver in similar ways as alcohol. Previous studies have found that a single dose of some cold and allergy medications can have the same effect on driving as being above the legal limit for blood alcohol concentration, and certain antidepressants have been shown to increase crash risk by up to 41 percent.

“Just because a doctor prescribes a drug, or you can purchase it over-the-counter doesn’t necessarily mean it is safe to use while driving,” says Jake Nelson, AAA’s Director of Traffic Safety Advocacy.  “Always discuss potential side effects and interactions with your doctor or pharmacist before getting behind the wheel.”

To educate drivers on the impact that prescription and over-the-counter drugs can have on safe driving ability, the AAA Foundation developed RoadwiseRX – a free, interactive tool that allows users to input various medications and check for side effects and interactions that can lead to driver impairment.

Each year, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety surveys Americans ages 16 and older about their driving behaviors and attitudes. The goal of this annual Traffic Safety Culture Index is to foster a social climate in which traffic safety is highly valued and rigorously pursued.

Established by AAA in 1947, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit, publicly-supported charitable educational and research organization. Dedicated to saving lives and reducing injuries on our roads, the Foundation’s mission is to prevent crashes and save lives through research and education about traffic safety. The Foundation has funded over 200 research projects designed to discover the causes of traffic crashes, prevent them and minimize injuries when they do occur. Visit www.aaafoundation.org for more information on this and other research.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

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Heather HunterStatement from AAA CEO Bob Darbelnet

ORLANDO, Fla., (November 20, 2014) – “AAA supports NHTSA’s action to call for a full national recall of affected Takata airbags. Vehicles are often bought and sold across state lines so it is in the best interest of consumers to expand this recall to all states. Testimony from today’s hearing before the Senate Commerce Committee further underscored that the grave danger from these defective airbags is a national safety priority and should be treated as such. Motorists’ safety is a national issue that is not confined by regional boundaries. Takata’s handling of this investigation and recall is unacceptable and demonstrates their failure to fully understand, address and communicate the scope of the airbag deficiencies as soon as the problem was identified.”

“The tremendous number of vehicle recalls issued to date this year is understandably alarming to motorists and must lead to systematic changes to the way that regulators and manufacturers protect the safety of motorists. AAA fully supports legislative proposals that call for reforms to strengthen the recall process, increase penalties for inaction by manufacturers, and clarify additional NHTSA oversight responsibilities. Accountability, transparency and full and timely disclosure of any potential safety defect is not negotiable when it comes to motorist safety.”

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Nancy WhiteStatement from Bob Darbelnet, AAA CEO

(WASHINGTON, October 28, 2014) “A thorough review of NHTSA’s ability to manage and respond to vehicle recalls is warranted and overdue given the repeated breakdowns in the recall process that have been on display this year. These missteps not only erode consumer confidence in the Agency tasked with ensuring public safety but most importantly jeopardize the safety of millions of American motorists.

“In the past seven days, Americans have witnessed a broken safety website, incorrect lists of impacted vehicles and a timeline that again paints NHTSA’s recall process as slow and ineffective.  After several corrections to the list of 7.8 million vehicles impacted by the latest Takata recall, it remains unclear which vehicles are unsafe for motorists to drive and what regions are most at risk. Consumers need to know immediately whether they could be in danger.  If a vehicle impacted by this recall is unsafe to drive, simply disabling the airbag is not an acceptable temporary “fix.” Consumers impacted by this recall should be provided a loaner vehicle that is safe to drive until the necessary repairs are completed.

“As an advocate for motorists, AAA is again calling on NHTSA to ensure the vehicles we drive every day to work, pick up our kids from school, and visit families at the holidays are safe to operate. The challenges facing NHTSA are significant and President Obama must demand immediate action to fix a system that clearly remains broken.”

 

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Heather HunterAAA supports calls for higher penalties, increased transparency and more stringent oversight

Washington, D.C., (September 16, 2014) – AAA released the following statement in response to today’s Senate Commerce Committee hearing that focused on the vehicle safety recall process and the committee’s broader oversight of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

“There is plenty of blame to go around with both failures by automakers and missteps by regulators at NHTSA which failed to protect the public as evidence mounted of potential dangers in many GM vehicles,” said AAA Chief Operating Officer Marshall L. Doney. “The time for finger pointing has passed, and now we must focus on ensuring that a problem of this magnitude never again threatens road safety.”

“Congress has for too long failed to fund NHTSA’s investigation department and the agency desperately needs those resources to fulfill its public mission,” continued Doney. “New funding for NHTSA must be tied to necessary reforms that ensure that tax dollars are spent on conducting effective investigations that identify critical safety defects before lives are lost.”

“NHTSA’s fines on automakers must fit the severity of violations that threaten road users, and AAA supports raising the limit on these fines immediately from $35 million to $300 million,” continued Doney. “Efforts by automakers to oppose this increase are disappointing and yet again puts profits before safety.”

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

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