Posts Tagged ‘AAA FTS’

Most families and physicians wait too long to talk with older drivers about their safe driving ability

Tamra JohnsonWASHINGTON, D.C. (Aug. 14, 2018) –Nearly 83 percent of older drivers report never speaking to a family member or physician about their safe driving ability, according to new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Of the small percentage of families who do have the often difficult conversation, 15 percent do so after a crash or traffic infraction has occurred- which could be too late. Due to their fragility, older drivers are at greater risk of death and injury if involved in a crash.

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In 2016, more than 200,000 drivers ages 65 and older were injured in a traffic crash and more than 3,500 were killed. With seniors outliving their ability to drive safely by an average of seven to 10 years, families should not wait to talk about safety. AAA urges seniors to begin planning for “driving retirement” at the same time they begin planning for retirement from work.

“The right time to stop driving varies for everyone,” said Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation of Traffic Safety. “This research shows that older drivers can be hesitant to initiate conversations about their driving capabilities, so it is important that families encourage them to talk early and often about their future behind the wheel. With early discussion and proper planning, elderly drivers may extend their time on the road.”

The report is the latest research released in the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s Longitudinal Research on Aging Drivers (LongROAD) project. Researchers found that only 17 percent of older drivers report ever speaking with a family member or physician about driving safety. The most commonly cited reasons for having the discussion include:

  • Driving safety concerns (falling asleep while driving, trouble staying in lane): 65 percent
  • Health issues: 22 percent
  • Driving infraction or crash: 15 percent
  • Planning for the future: 7 percent

AAA recommends that families start talking with older adults about safe driving early and avoid waiting until there are “red flags” like crashes, scrapes on the car (from bumping into garages, signs, etc.), new medical diagnoses, or worsening health conditions. It is helpful to begin discussions when an older driver starts planning for other life changes, like retirement from work or moving to a new home. When talking to an older driver, families should:

  • Start early and talk often: Be positive, be supportive and focus on ways to help keep them safe when behind the wheel, including other forms of transportation available to older drivers.
  • Avoid generalizations: Do not jump to conclusions about an older driver’s skills or abilities.
  • Speak one-on-one: Keep the discussion between you and the older driver. Inviting the whole family to the conversation can create feelings of alienation or anger.
  • Focus on the facts: Stick to information you know, like a medical condition or medication regimen that might make driving unsafe. Do not accuse an older driver of being unsafe or assume that driving should be stopped altogether.
  • Plan Together: Allow the older driver to play an active role in developing the plan for their driving retirement.

“The best time to initiate a discussion with a loved one about staying mobile without a set of car keys is before you suspect there is a problem,” said Jake Nelson, AAA director of traffic safety advocacy and research. “Planning for personal mobility and independence should be done working shoulder to shoulder with the older driver. Talking sooner, rather than later, can help set mutual expectations and reduce safety issues or emotional reactions down the line.”

It is important that families have a plan to help keep the older driver on the road for as long as safely possible. Past research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that 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 as those who remain behind the wheel. Families can use the AAA Driver Planning Agreement as a guide to starting conversations about safety. The agreement allows families to plan together for future changes in driving abilities before they become a concern.

For more information on AAA resources for older drivers, such as RoadWise online/classroom courses or other programs that help seniors better “fit” with their vehicles, visit www.SeniorDriving.AAA.com.

About LongROAD: Recognizing that lifestyle changes, along with innovative technologies and medical advancements will have a significant impact on the driving experiences of the baby boomer generation, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has launched a ground-breaking, multi-year research program to more fully understand the driving patterns and trends of older drivers in the United States. The AAA LongROAD (Longitudinal Research on Aging Drivers) study is one of the largest and most comprehensive senior driver databases available on senior drivers incorporating 2,990 participants being followed for five years. It will support in-depth studies of senior driving and mobility to better understand risks and develop effective countermeasures.

About AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety: Established in 1947 by AAA, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a not-for-profit, publicly funded, 501(c)(3) charitable research and educational organization. The AAA Foundation’s mission is to prevent traffic deaths and injuries by conducting research into their causes and by educating the public about strategies to prevent crashes and reduce injuries when they do occur. This research is used to develop educational materials for drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists and other road users. Visit www.AAAFoundation.org.

About AAA: As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 57 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. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. Find more information on AAA clubs at AAA.com.

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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Nancy White(February 3, 2014) Yesterday’s unfortunate crash in Florida involving an older driver that left three dead and others injured should serve as a wake-up call for families to have a conversation with the aging drivers in their lives before tragedy strikes close to home.

While details of the crash are still under investigation, AAA’s safety expert questions if the tragic incident could have been prevented. “While safe driving is a function of ability not just age, older drivers and their families need to be mindful that as the body ages, medical conditions including visual and cognitive impairments become more prevalent, so it’s critical to understand how these changes can affect a person’s ability to drive safely,” said AAA’s Director of Traffic Safety Advocacy & Research Jake Nelson.

As a leading advocate for senior driver safety and mobility, AAA is urging families to prepare now and have that conversation with the aging drivers in their families and even consider adopting a Driver Planning Agreement as a way to initiate the conversation with loved ones. With 10,000 Americans a day turning 65, an increasing number of families will be faced with the challenge of balancing safety and mobility for older loved ones. “Data tell us that Americans know they need to begin the discussion but often don’t know how.  Driver assessment tools, conversation starters and links to community resources can make the process less intimidating,” said Nelson.

For more information on AAA’s free resources for senior drives and their families, including how to begin addressing this challenging issue today, visit SeniorDriving.AAA.com.

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

Nancy WhiteAAA’s list helps “silver tsunami” match health concerns with helpful vehicle features

Washington, D.C., (Dec. 2, 2013) – Seniors shopping for a new ride can find “smart” features in  today’s cars that help alleviate a variety of age-related health conditions that typically challenge older drivers, according to AAA.  Nearly 90 percent of motorists 65 and older suffer from health concerns that affect driving safety, for example, lack of flexibility and muscle strength.  To help inform seniors about smart car choices, AAA’s automotive experts reviewed more than 200 2013 model year makes and models to identify features that better equip seniors for driving safety and comfort in an update to Smart Features for Older Drivers.

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“Although older Americans are healthier now more than ever before, the aging process can diminish a person’s vision or limit range of motion that could impact their driving,” said AAA Director of Traffic Safety Advocacy and Research, Jake Nelson. “The good news is that AAA found that more than 200 vehicles have one or more smart features that can help the aging driver deal more effectively with these conditions.”

To help underscore the need to improve older driver safety as 10,000 Americans turn 65 every day, AAA originally launched Smart Features for Older Drivers in partnership with the University of Florida’s Institute for Mobility, Activity and Participation in 2008.  In the recent update, Smart Features lists 2013 vehicle features that optimize older driver safety and comfort, notes current vehicles with those features, and allows users to explore their individual needs through an interactive online widget [SeniorDriving.AAA.com/SmartFeatures] at SeniorDriving.AAA.com.

Because everyone ages differently, AAA advises older drivers to look for vehicles that address their specific needs and medical conditions.  Recommendations included in Smart Features for Older Drivers, include:

Condition: Feature: Why it’s smart:
Limited knee range of motion; Hip or leg pain Six way adjustable seats Less strength to adjust, Easier to enter and exit car
Arthritic hands; stiff fingers Keyless entry and ignition Reduce amount of grip strength
Diminished fine motor skills Thick steering wheel Reduce pain associated w/ twisting and turning
Diminished vision; problems with high-low contrast Displays with contrasting text Reduce blinding glare

“A 2012 survey revealed that only one in 10 senior drivers with health issues are driving a vehicle with features like keyless entry or larger dashboard controls that can assist with such conditions,” said Nelson.  “AAA’s goal is to empower older drivers with information that can help keep them safer behind the wheel.”

AAA is announcing the Smart Features update in support of the American Occupational Therapy Association’s (AOTA) Older Driver Safety Awareness Week, December 2-6, 2013.  This week aims to promote understanding of the importance of mobility and transportation to ensure older adults remain active in the community—shopping, working or volunteering—with the confidence that transportation will not be the barrier stranding them at home. You can learn more about the AOTA here.

For more information on which vehicles are the right fit for you and to access all the free resources AAA offers to senior drivers, visit SeniorDriving.AAA.com.

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.

Despite popular belief, senior drivers engage in safe driving habits especially older women

Nancy WhiteWASHINGTON, D.C., (May 1, 2013)–Nine in 10 older drivers buckle up when they get behind the wheel and more than a third have taken driver improvement courses, according to data surveying more than 7,000 seniors. Survey findings, collected by AAA, the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) and AARP also reveal that twice the number of women attended driver safety courses despite the fact that older men drove more often than older women by 12 percent. AAA is promoting the data to help debunk the perception that older drivers are a menace on the road.

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“The silver tsunami is often unfairly dubbed as risky and dangerous. These data tell us that they practice safe driving behaviors and that more than a third of older drivers have actively sought out and participated in programs to improve their skills,” says AAA’s Director of Traffic Safety Advocacy and Research Jake Nelson.  The findings were collected from drivers who participated in CarFit, a free program offered by AAA, AOTA and AARP.  Typically offered at community events, CarFit runs drivers and their vehicles through a twelve-point checklist with trained technicians who assess the fit of a driver’s car by checking for optimum and safe settings such as distance from and sight line above the steering wheel and proper mirrors settings.

According to CarFit participant data, the top four “fit” challenges for older drivers included improper distance from steering wheel (59 percent); adequate and safe views from side mirrors (32 percent); improper seat height (28 percent) and improper head restraint height (21 percent).  The good news is that after a run through the CarFit twelve-point program, 97 percent of participants’ issues were resolved.

Since CarFit launched nationally, more than 31,000 older drivers have gone through the program.  “While the primary goal is to teach drivers how to attain a safe and comfortable fit, the program also increases awareness that adaptations and modifications are available when medical conditions or changes make finding the best fit difficult,” says occupational therapist Elin Schold David of AOTA. “CarFit benefits the whole community by helping the senior driver be a safer driver.”

Other survey data revealed that more than half (52 percent) of drivers 65 and older typically drive seven days a week. “Even when they’re driving every day, seniors do not pose a disproportionate threat on the roads,” said Nelson. “In fact, drivers in their mid-to-late 80s have lower crash rates per mile driven than drivers in their early 20s and roughly half the crash rate of teenagers.”

As a leading road safety advocate for more than 110 years, AAA provides expert advice and helpful resources for older adults and their families—working to support them as they tackle the challenges of balancing safety and mobility. SeniorDriving.AAA.com provides convenient, online access to a wealth of interactive material and AAA’s Senior Driver Safety Expos offer a local hands-on opportunity to sample AAA’s suite of free tools and programs.

To view results from AAA’s survey of older drivers visit NewsRoom.AAA.com.  For more information on AAA’s free resources for senior drives and their families, visit SeniorDriving.AAA.com.  As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 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.

Study Shows that “Do As I Say, Not as I Do” Attitude Prevails Among Nation’s Drivers

WASHINGTON, D.C., (January 25, 2013) – Motorists who use cell phones while driving are more likely to engage in additional dangerous behaviors such as speeding, driving drowsy, driving without a seatbelt and sending texts or emails, according to a survey conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Additionally, more than two-thirds (69 percent) of licensed drivers reported talking on a cell phone while driving within the last month despite the fact that nearly nine-in-ten respondents (89 percent) believe other drivers using cell phones are a threat to their personal safety.

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“Ninety percent of respondents believe that distracted driving is a somewhat or much bigger problem today than it was three years ago, yet they themselves continue to engage in the same activities,” said Peter Kissinger, President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “More work clearly is needed to educate motorists on the risks associated with using a cell phone while driving, especially given that most Americans believe this problem is becoming worse.”

Motorists who fairly often or regularly used their cell phones over the last month also reported that they engaged in additional risky behaviors. The research shows:

  • 65 percent also reported speeding
  • 44 percent also reported driving while drowsy
  • 53 percent also reported sending a text or email
  • 29 percent also drove without a seatbelt

Conversely, drivers that reported never using a cell phone were much less likely to report additional risky behaviors:

  • 31 percent reported speeding
  • 14 percent reported driving drowsy
  • 3 percent reported sending a text or email
  • 16 percent drove without a seatbelt

Despite the near-universal disapproval of texting and emailing while driving (95 percent), more than one-in-four licensed drivers (27 percent) reported sending a text or email at least once in the past 30 days, and more than one-third (35 percent) said they read a text or email while driving. Young drivers age 16-24 were even more likely with more than half (61 percent) reporting having read a text or email while driving in the past month, while more than one-in-four (26 percent) reported checking or updating social media while driving.

“What concerns AAA is this pattern of risky behavior that even goes beyond cell phone use,” said Kathleen Bower, AAA vice president of public affairs. “These same cell phone-using drivers clearly understand the risk of distraction, yet are still likely to engage in a wide range of dangerous driving activities.”

Driver use of cell phones impairs reaction times and roughly quadruples crash risk. Additionally, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that more than 3,000 people are killed and nearly half a million are injured each year in crashes involving distraction. This is likely an underestimate given the challenges associated with determining the role of distraction in crashes.

AAA and the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety have long been leading advocates in educating motorists about the risks of distracted driving. AAA recommends that motorists turn off their phone before driving or pull over to a safe place to talk, send texts or use email. AAA also has launched a legislative campaign to advocate for a text messaging ban in all 50 states. To date, 39 states and the District of Columbia have adopted this key traffic safety measure and AAA expects all 11 remaining states to consider this legislation in 2013.

The distraction data were collected as part of the AAA Foundation’s 2012 Traffic Safety Culture Index, a nationally representative, probability-based survey of 3,896 U.S. residents ages 16 and older. The sample is representative of all U.S. households reachable by telephone or by regular mail. The questionnaire was made available in English and Spanish, and respondents were able to complete it in the language of their choice. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety provides additional details in the 2012 Traffic Safety Culture Index and as part of a report called Distracted and Risk-Prone Drivers.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 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.

Established in 1947 by AAA, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is an independent, publicly funded, 501(c)(3) charitable research and educational organization. The AAA Foundation’s mission is to prevent traffic deaths and injuries by conducting research into their causes and by educating the public about strategies to prevent crashes and reduce injuries when they do occur. Visit www.aaafoundation.org or www.facebook.com/AAAFTS for more information on how you can join our cause.

AAA research helps “silver tsunami” match vehicle features to health concerns

Washington, D.C., (Dec. 3, 2012) – With nearly 90 percent of motorists 65 and older suffering from   health issues that affect driving safety, finding a car that not only adapts to conditions, such as lack of flexibility or muscle strength, while maintaining safety and comfort can be difficult.  Data from a new AAA survey also reveals that only one in 10 senior drivers with aging health issues are driving a vehicle that has features like keyless entry and larger dashboard controls that can assist with such conditions.

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To better equip the “silver tsunami” for driving safety and comfort, AAA has updated its Smart Features for Older Drivers resource to address a broader range of health conditions and include new data on 2012 vehicle features.  As a leading advocate for senior driver safety, AAA launched Smart Features for Older Drivers in partnership with the University of Florida’s Institute for Mobility, Activity and Participation in 2008. In the update, Smart Features identifies vehicle features that optimize older driver safety and comfort, lists current vehicles with those features, and allows users to explore their individual needs through an interactive online tool.

“With 10,000 Americans turning 65 every day, we know that families will be coping with these age-related driving safety issues for years to come,” said AAA President & CEO Robert Darbelnet. “The good news is that specific ‘smart features’ on today’s cars can help older drivers and their families deal with these conditions.”

 Smart Features addresses a wide variety of conditions that are commonly experienced with aging, including diminished vision, arthritic joints, hip and leg pain and limited upper-body range of motion. “As a person ages, muscle strength, range of motion and vision tend to diminish and can affect driving ability,” said Dr. Sherrilene Classen, Director, Institute for Mobility, Activity and Participation at the University of Florida. “Not only do these conditions affect a driver’s comfort, their presence can also reduce the ability to safely execute the complex task of driving.”

Because everyone ages differently, AAA recommends older drivers look for vehicles that address their specific needs and medical conditions. Some of the recommendations included in Smart Features for Older Drivers include:

  • Drivers suffering from hip or leg pain, decreased leg strength or limited knee range of motion should look for vehicles with six-way adjustable power seats and seat heights that come between the driver’s mid-thigh and lower buttocks. These features can make it easier for drivers to enter and exit a vehicle.
  • Drivers with arthritic hands, painful or stiff fingers or diminished fine motor skills benefit from four-door models, thick steering wheels, keyless entry and ignition, power mirrors and seats and larger dashboard controls with buttons. These features reduce the amount of grip strength needed and reduce pain associated with turning or twisting motions.
  • Drivers with diminished vision or problems with high-low contrast will find vehicles with auto-dimming mirrors, large audio and climate controls and displays with contrasting text helpful. These features can reduce blinding glare and make controls and displays easier to see.

Underscoring the critical need to improve older driver safety is new research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety that found that older drivers have the highest rates of death compared to other drivers largely due to their inability to survive a crash.  Conversely, the research found significant gains in overall motorists’ safety in the past decade. While crashes per mile driven decreased for drivers of all ages between 1995 and 2010 by 28 percent, the biggest decreases were found in drivers ages 75-79, down 42 percent; and drivers ages 80-84, down 40 percent.

AAA is highlighting these new materials in support of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) Older Driver Safety Awareness Week, December 3–7, 2012.  AOTA’s Older Driver Safety Awareness Week aims to promote understanding of the importance of mobility and transportation to ensure older adults remain active in the community—shopping, working or volunteering—with the confidence that transportation will not be the barrier stranding them at home. You can learn more about the AOTA here.

For more information on which vehicles are the right fit for you and to access all the free resources AAA offers to senior drivers, visit SeniorDriving.AAA.com.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 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.

Teens Driving Teens A Deadly Mix

October 11th, 2012 by AAA

New Research Shows that Risky Behaviors Climb when Peer Passengers Onboard

WASHINGTON (October 11, 2012) – Risky behaviors among 16- and 17-year-old drivers involved in fatal crashes increased when teen passengers were present according to a study presented today by AAA and conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. With motor vehicle crashes ranking as the leading cause of death for teens, AAA is calling for greater parental involvement and stronger graduated driver’s licensing programs to promote road safety.
The new research, released as part of Teen Driver Safety Week (Oct. 14-20), shows that the prevalence of risky behaviors generally grew for 16- and 17-year-old drivers as the number of teen passengers increased.  Among 16- and 17-year-old drivers involved in fatal crashes:

  • The prevalence of speeding increased from 30 percent to 44 percent and 48 percent with zero, two and three or more teen passengers, respectively.
  • The prevalence of late-night driving (11 p.m. to 5 a.m.) increased from 17 percent to 22 percent and 28 percent with zero, two and three or more teen passengers, respectively.
  • The prevalence of alcohol use increased from 13 percent to 17 percent and 18 percent with zero, two and three or more teen passengers, respectively.

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“Mixing young drivers with teen passengers can have dangerous consequences,” said AAA President & CEO Robert Darbelnet. “AAA urges parents to set and consistently enforce family rules that limit newly licensed teens from driving with young passengers.”

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety analyzed data on fatal crashes that occurred in the United States from 2005 through 2010. The report documents the prevalence of passengers ages 13-19 in fatal crashes involving drivers age 16 and 17, and examines the characteristics of those crashes according to age, sex and number of teen passengers present.  Researchers found that 9,578 drivers age 16 and 17 were involved in fatal crashes, and that 3,994 of these included at least one teen passenger.

“Teen crashes remain a huge problem nationwide,” said AAA Foundation President and CEO Peter Kissinger. “Our past research clearly shows how young passengers substantially increase a novice driver’s risk of being in a fatal crash, and these new findings underscore the need to refocus our efforts, to address the problem, from state legislatures to parents.”

AAA recommends that all states adopt and enforce a comprehensive three-stage (learner’s permit, intermediate/probationary license, full/unrestricted license) graduated license system for novice drivers. These programs should limit driving at night and driving with young passengers, among other provisions designed to help novice drivers gain the skills and experience associated with responsible driving behavior.

“Graduated driver licensing programs have been shown to greatly reduce crashes, injuries and deaths for everyone on the road when they limit new teen drivers to no more than one passenger,” continued Darbelnet. “Steps parents can take, such as setting and enforcing a parent-teen driving agreement, can build on state laws to improve safety by gradually easing teens into driving.”

This study builds on a AAA Foundation report released in May that shows how risk of death in a traffic crash for 16- and 17-year-old drivers increases by 44 percent when carrying one passenger younger than 21, doubles with two and quadruples with three or more younger passengers, compared with driving alone. A previous study by the AAA Foundation found that potentially distracting loud conversation and horseplay were substantially more common with multiple teenage passengers in the vehicle than with siblings or adult passengers.

Teen drivers face a number of safety challenges including:

  • Teenage drivers are involved in more crashes per mile than drivers of any other age group.
  • Drivers aged 16 to 17 are involved in about seven times as many crashes per mile driven compared to drivers in their forties, fifties or sixties.
  • Teenage drivers are overrepresented in crashes that result in the death of other people, such as their passengers, pedestrians or occupants of other vehicles.

AAA has a wide range of tools available at TeenDriving.AAA.com to help parents simplify the learning-to-drive process including parent-teen driving agreements, online webinars, licensing information and free online information developed from a National Institutes of Health program.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 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.

Established in 1947 by AAA, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is an independent, publicly funded, 501(c)(3) charitable research and educational organization. The AAA Foundation’s mission is to prevent traffic deaths and injuries by conducting research into their causes and by educating the public about strategies to prevent crashes and reduce injuries when they do occur. Visit www.aaafoundation.org or www.facebook.com/AAAFTS for more information on how you can join our cause.

With eight out of 10 seniors taking medications, AAA suggests tool to help keep older drivers safe

WASHINGTON (September 12, 2012)–More than 80 percent of drivers age 65 and older regularly take medications, yet only half have talked to a medical professional about possible safety issues related to driving. With 10,000 Americans turning 65 every day, AAA today promotes Roadwise Rx to help the “silver tsunami” understand how medications may affect their ability to drive safely.

Developed by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, Roadwise Rx is an online tool that details common side effects of prescription and over-the-counter medications. The tool generates personalized feedback on how medications, herbal supplements and foods, and their interactions with each other, can impact safety behind the wheel.  Drivers are encouraged to discuss the confidential results with their doctor or pharmacist to learn how to mitigate possible crash risks.

Additional Resources

“A recent AAA survey found that women (58 percent) are more likely than men (46 percent) to seek counsel on the risks of driving while on medication, yet this is an issue that all older drivers and their families need to address,” said AAA’s President & CEO Robert Darbelnet. “Roadwise Rx lets users move beyond the old-fashioned ‘brown bag’ review with an easy way to virtually pool together their pill bottles and talk to their doctor.”

Due to chronic medical conditions, older adults often must take multiple medications.  Certain types of medications, like antidepressants, have been shown to increase crash risk by up to 41 percent.  Ingredients like Diphenhydramine, commonly found in over-the-counter cold and allergy medicines, can have the same effect on driving as being above the legal limit for blood alcohol concentration.

“Earlier research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that nearly one out of five older drivers use five or more prescription medications. With medical conditions typically on the rise as people age, and treatment often dependent on medicinal interventions, there was a critical need to develop a tool to help older drivers understand the safety risk,” said AAA Foundation President and CEO Peter Kissinger. “Roadwise Rx is the only tool of its kind that looks at medications and associated driving hazards.”

It is estimated that by 2020, just eight years from now, nearly one in six people will be age 65 or older and most of them will still be licensed to drive. “As a leading road safety advocate for the last 110 years, AAA continues to provide expert advice and helpful resources for older adults and their families—working to support them as they tackle the challenge of balancing safety and mobility,” added Darbelnet.

Roadwise Rx is available, at no cost, to all seniors and their families at SeniorDriving.AAA.com.

To view results from AAA’s survey of older drivers, click here. For more information on AAA’s free resources for senior drivers and their families, visit SeniorDriving.AAA.com. As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 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.

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. This research is used to develop dozens of focused, high-impact educational materials for drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists and other road users. Visit www.aaafoundation.org or www.facebook.com/AAAFTS for more information on how you can join our cause.

AAA—the nation’s largest automobile club—is encouraged by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) first-ever federally-issued guidelines to automakers on in-vehicle electronic devices.  With the explosion of in-vehicle wireless communications technologies, automakers, safety advocates and government agencies must work together to ensure that these products can be operated safely and that they are not simply making it more convenient and more appealing to drive while distracted.

“AAA considers Secretary LaHood’s Phase I guidelines to be a step in the right direction.  But available research evidence is extremely limited and highly inconclusive on the real risks that in-car communications technologies pose to drivers, even when systems are limited to voice-activation only,” says AAA CEO and President Robert L. Darbelnet. “Until the weight of evidence suggests that safety risks are mitigated, AAA urges drivers to use caution when using these in-vehicle technologies and strive to keep their hands on the wheel, their eyes on the road, and their focus on the important driving task.” 

Additional Resources

This year, AAA and the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety are sponsoring groundbreaking research by the University of Utah that will enable AAA to advise consumers about the relative risk posed by various devices and technologies.  This study will help inform the wider policy discussion about the role of technology in addressing distracted driving and ultimately help educate motorists through a robust public safety campaign.

AAA and the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety have long been leading advocates in educating motorists about the risks of distracted driving.  Most recently, AAA launched a legislative campaign in 2009 to advocate for all 50 states to enact bans on text messaging.  To date, 35 states have adopted this key traffic safety measure.  AAA also partnered with Secretary LaHood and Seventeen magazine to educate teen drivers on the dangers of distraction through the Two-Second Turn Off campaign. 

For more information or to view AAA’s videos on distracted driving, visit YouTube.AAA.com.

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