Posts Tagged ‘AAA FTS’

New AAA Foundation research shows an estimated 14.8 million Americans report driving within one hour after using marijuana in the past 30 days

Tamra JohnsonWASHINGTON, D.C. (June 19, 2019) –  Nearly 70% of Americans think it’s unlikely a driver will get caught by police for driving while high on marijuana, according to a new AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety survey. An alarming finding shows that an estimated 14.8 million drivers report getting behind the wheel within one hour after using marijuana in the past 30 days. The impairing effects of marijuana are usually experienced within the first one to four hours after using the drug.1 And marijuana users who drive high are up to twice as likely to be involved in a crash.2

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“Marijuana can significantly alter reaction times and impair a driver’s judgment. Yet, many drivers don’t consider marijuana-impaired driving as risky as other behaviors like driving drunk or talking on the phone while driving,” said Dr. David Yang, Executive Director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “It is important for everyone to understand that driving after recently using marijuana can put themselves and others at risk.”

In the AAA Foundation survey, 7% of Americans reported they approved of driving after recently using marijuana – more than other dangerous behaviors like alcohol-impaired driving (1.6%), drowsy driving (1.7%), and prescription drug-impaired driving (3%). Other survey findings show that:

  • Millennials (nearly 14%) are most likely to report driving within one hour after using marijuana in the past 30 days, followed by Generation Z (10%).
  • Men (8%) are more likely than women (5%) to report driving shortly after using marijuana in the past 30 days.

“It’s time to face the facts. Any driver who gets behind the wheel high can be arrested and prosecuted,” said Jake Nelson, AAA Director of Traffic Safety and Advocacy. “Law enforcement officials are getting more sophisticated in their methods for identifying marijuana-impaired drivers and the consequences are not worth the risk.”

Programs like Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement (ARIDE) and the 50-State Drug Evaluation and Classification (DEC) Program were developed to train law enforcement officers around the country to more effectively recognize drug-impaired driving. There are currently more than 87,000 ARIDE and 8,300 DECP trained officers patrolling U.S. roads. Additionally, the number of trained Drug Recognition Experts (DREs) has increased by 30% since 2013. These officers report that marijuana is the most frequently identified drug category. Since 2015, the number of drivers arrested by DREs for using marijuana increased 20%.3

AAA recommends all motorists avoid driving while impaired by marijuana or any other drug (including alcohol) to avoid arrest and keep the roads safe. Just because a drug is legal does not mean it is safe to use while operating a motor vehicle. Drivers who get behind the wheel while impaired put themselves and others at risk.

The new survey results are part of the AAA Foundation’s annual Traffic Safety Culture Index, which identifies attitudes and behaviors related to traffic safety. The survey data are from a sample of 2,582 licensed drivers ages 16 and older who reported driving in the past 30 days. The AAA Foundation issued its first Traffic Safety Culture Index in 2008, and the latest report is online at www.AAAFoundation.org.

About AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety: Established in 1947 by AAA, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a nonprofit, 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: AAA provides more than 59 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 34 motor clubs and nearly 1,100 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. To join, visit AAA.com.

 

1MacDonald S. Cannabis Crashes: Myths & Truths 2019
2Hall W. What has research over the past two decades revealed about the adverse health effects of recreational cannabis use? Addiction 2015; 110: 19-35.
32017 Annual DECP Report – International Association of Chiefs of Police

New AAA research shows fatigue and poor physical functioning are leading factors that cause older adults to stop driving

Tamra JohnsonWASHINGTON, D.C. (Apr. 25, 2019) – New research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety finds that increased fatigue and poor physical functioning are leading factors that can result in older adults limiting their driving. But simple steps, like weekly exercise and stretching, can improve safe driving abilities and keep older adults on the road longer.

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The AAA Foundation commissioned researchers at Columbia University to evaluate eight domains- depression, anxiety, fatigue, sleep disturbance, pain interference, physical functioning, pain intensity and participation in social activities – to determine how changes in physical, mental and social health affect driving mobility for older adults. The report found that fatigue and poor physical functioning are most common among older drivers who spend less time behind the wheel.

“Older adults who give up the keys are more likely to suffer from depression than those who remain behind the wheel,” said Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “It is important that we find ways to keep older drivers in good physical health in order to extend their mobility.”

Research shows that daily exercise and stretching can help older drivers to improve overall body flexibility and move more freely to observe the road from all angles. Physical strength also helps drivers remain alert to potential hazards on the road and perform essential driving functions, like:

  • Braking
  • Steering
  • Parking
  • Looking to the side and rear
  • Adjusting the safety belts
  • Sitting for long periods of time

“Some decline in physical fitness is inevitable as we age,” said Jake Nelson, AAA director of traffic safety advocacy and research. “But, research shows that exercise doesn’t have to be strenuous to produce positive results.  You can spread out the time you spend being physically active over the course of your day and week.  A few minutes at a time can be sufficient. Simple steps to keep active can keep you driving safely for longer.”

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends older adults, who are physically able, get between 2.5 to 5 hours of moderate-intensity exercise each week or between 75 minutes to 2.5 hours of high-intensity physical activity. The exercises should include balance training as well as aerobic and muscle strengthening activities. Older adults should consult their doctor before beginning a new exercise regimen. They should also talk with a healthcare provider about ways to combat fatigue. Prioritizing getting at least seven hours of sleep each night can help older adults stay alert behind the wheel.

AAA recommends a series of stretches to improve neck, shoulder, trunk, back and overall body flexibility. As a leading advocate for senior driver safety, AAA also offers a variety of programs and resources to help older adults improve their driving performance and avoid crashes. 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, and 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 launched a ground-breaking, multi-year research program to more fully understand and meet the safety and mobility needs of older drivers in the United States. The AAA LongROAD (Longitudinal Research on Aging Drivers) study is one of the largest and most comprehensive 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: AAA provides more than 59 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 34 motor clubs and nearly 1,100 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. To join, visit AAA.com.

Survey shows an eight percent increase since 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 27, 2019) – Americans spend an additional 20 minutes driving each week compared to 2014, according to new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Over the course of the year, Americans collectively spent 70 billion hours behind the wheel- an eight percent increase since 2014. Each week, drivers travel more than 220 miles. Add it up and Americans drive an average of 11,498 miles each year- the equivalent of making two roundtrip drives from San Francisco to Washington, D.C.

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“The more time drivers spend behind the wheel, the greater their exposure to risks on the roadway” said Dr. David Yang, executive director for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “Longer time behind the wheel could lead to issues such as fatigue, distraction, and impatience for drivers, which are all contributing factors for vehicle crashes. Drivers need to stay alert and focused on the key task at hand, driving. This can save your life and the lives of your passengers and people with whom you share the road.”

The AAA Foundation’s American Driving Survey shows that on average, U.S. drivers spend nearly an hour behind the wheel each day and travel 31.5 miles- a five percent increase from 2014.

Driving Data Point 2014-2015 2016-2017 Percent change
Number of driving trips/day 2.16 2.22 2.8% (+)
Time spent driving (minutes)/day 48.0 51.0 6.3% (+)
Number of miles driven/day 29.9 31.5 5.4% (+)
Driving Population (millions) 222.2 225.8 1.6% (+)

Other survey findings show that:

Demographics

  • Men spend 19 percent more time behind the wheel and drive 27 percent more miles than women.
  • People who are married or living with a partner spend at least 12 percent more time driving than those who are not.
  • Drivers aged 75+ are spending, on average 8 minutes a day driving– a 23 percent increase from 2014.

Region

  • Drivers in the West spend the most time driving (58.9 minutes per day), followed by drivers in the Northeast (51.1 minutes), South (49.9 minutes) and Midwest (44.5 minutes) regions.
  • The number of individuals who report driving in the Midwest region dropped three percent, while the number of drivers in the Northeast, South and Western regions increased or remained the same.

The new results are part of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s American Driving Survey, which reveals the driving habits of the American public. The survey data are from a representative sample of 11,804 drivers who provided information about their driving on randomly selected days between January 1, 2014 and December 31, 2017.

About AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety: Established in 1947 by AAA, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a nonprofit, 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: AAA provides more than 59 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 34 motor clubs and nearly 1,100 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. To join, visit AAA.com.

Tamra JohnsonWASHINGTON, D.C. (Nov. 28, 2018) – Nearly 50 percent of older adults report using seven or more medications while remaining active drivers, according to new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. An evaluation of the medications people are taking found that nearly 20 percent of older drivers are using medications that generally should be avoided because they have very limited therapeutic benefit, pose excess harm, or both. Drugs like these are called potentially inappropriate medications, or PIMs1. Most of these potentially inappropriate medications, such as benzodiazepines and first-generation antihistamines, are known to cause impairing effects such as blurred vision, confusion, fatigue or incoordination, and can increase a driver’s risk for a crash by up to 300 percent2.

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In 2016, more than 200,000 drivers ages 65 and older were injured in traffic crashes and more than 3,500 died. Currently, a record 42 million adults ages 65 and older are driving on America’s roads and this number is expected to increase substantially over the next decade, which would make them the largest driving population.

“There is a growing population of older drivers who use multiple medications and likely do not realize the impact these prescriptions may have on their driving,” said Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “This new research shows that the more medications an older driver takes, the more likely they are to use an inappropriate medication that can potentially cause driving impairment.”

The AAA Foundation along with researchers from Columbia University and the University of California, San Diego evaluated medication reports from nearly 3,000 older drivers participating in the AAA LongROAD study. Researchers found that the most commonly reported medications used by older drivers can affect driving ability and may increase crash risk. These medications include:

  • Select cardiovascular prescriptions: Treating heart and blood vessel conditions (73 percent)
  • Select central nervous system agents (CNS) prescriptions: Treating parts of the nervous system, such as the brain, and includes pain medications (non-narcotics and narcotics), stimulants and anti-anxiety drugs (70 percent)

Previous research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that fewer than 18 percent of older drivers report ever receiving a warning from their health care provider about how their prescriptions impact their safety on the road. Additional data from the American Society of Health System Pharmacists shows that 34 percent of older adults are prescribed medications by more than one doctor, possibly bypassing opportunities to check how the new prescription may interact with other medications being used.

“Ask your doctor and pharmacist as many questions as necessary to ensure you understand why you need the medications prescribed to you, and how they can affect your driving, especially if taking multiple medications,” said Jake Nelson, AAA director of traffic safety advocacy and research. “Don’t be afraid to question healthcare providers.  It’s their job to help you. And the answers may just save your life.”

Considering the high number of medications used by older drivers, AAA urges older adults and their families to be vigilant in understanding the types of medications prescribed to them and have a strong grasp on any potential impairing side effects before getting behind the wheel. Drivers should:

  • Come Prepared: Write down any vitamins, supplements and prescribed or over-the-counter medications you take, and bring that list with you to every medical appointment.
  • Ask Questions: Share that medications list with your healthcare providers at each appointment, and ask about potential side effects or interactions that could affect your driving.
  • Discuss Alternatives: Risks can often be reduced by taking alternative medications, changing the doses or the timing of the doses to avoid conflicts with safe driving.

To learn more about their medications, drivers can use AAA’s Roadwise Rx. It’s a free, online tool to help drivers and their families understand common side effects of prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications and herbal supplements.  It also flags interactions between these medications that can impact safety behind the wheel. Print the free list and report, then discuss the confidential results with your doctor or pharmacist to learn how to mitigate possible crash risks. Drivers seeking additional ways to stay mobile or looking to drive less often due to their medications can find resources for alternative transportation at 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: AAA provides more than 59 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 35 motor clubs and nearly 1,100 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. To join, visit AAA.com.

Misunderstanding and misuse of driver assistance technology could lead to a crash

Tamra JohnsonWASHINGTON, D.C. (Sept. 26, 2018) – More and more, drivers are recognizing the value in having vehicles with advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) like blind spot monitoring systems, forward collision warning and lane keeping assist. However, while many of these technologies are rapidly being offered as standard, many drivers are unaware of the safety limitations of ADAS in their vehicles, according to new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. For example, researchers found that nearly 80 percent of drivers with blind spot monitoring systems were unaware of limitations or incorrectly believed the system could accurately detect vehicles passing at very high speeds or bicycles and pedestrians. In reality, the technology can only detect when a vehicle is traveling in a driver’s blind spot and many systems do not reliably detect pedestrians or cyclists. Lack of understanding or confusion about the proper function of ADAS technologies can lead to misuse and overreliance on the systems, which could result in a deadly crash.

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“When properly utilized, ADAS technologies have the potential to prevent 40 percent of all vehicle crashes and nearly 30 percent of traffic deaths. However, driver understanding and proper use is crucial in reaping the full safety benefits of these systems,” said Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “Findings from this new research show that there is still a lot of work to be done in educating drivers about proper use of ADAS technologies and their limitations.”

In 2016, more than 37,400 people were killed in traffic crashes- a five percent increase from 2015. “With ADAS technologies offering proven safety benefits when properly used, it is important that automakers and others play a greater role in educating motorists about the technology available in the vehicles they purchase,” said Jake Nelson, AAA director of traffic safety advocacy and research. “AAA also urges drivers to take charge of learning their vehicle technology’s functions and limitations in order to improve safety on the road.”

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety commissioned researchers from the University of Iowa to survey drivers who recently purchased a 2016 or 2017 model-year vehicle with ADAS technologies. Researchers evaluated drivers’ opinions, awareness and understanding of these technologies and found that most did not know or understand the limitations of the systems:

  • Blind spot monitoring: 80 percent of drivers did not know the technology’s limitations or incorrectly believed that the systems could monitor the roadway behind the vehicle or reliably detect bicycles, pedestrians and vehicles passing at high speeds.
  • Forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking: nearly 40 percent of drivers did not know the system’s limitations, or confused the two technologies- incorrectly reporting that forward collision warning could apply the brakes in the case of an emergency when the technology is only designed to deliver a warning signal. Moreover, roughly one in six vehicle owners in the survey reported that they did not know whether or not their vehicle was equipped with automatic emergency braking.

False expectations for ADAS systems can easily lead to misuse of the technology or an increase in driver distraction. In the survey:

  • About 25 percent of drivers using blind spot monitoring or rear cross traffic alert systems report feeling comfortable relying solely on the systems and not performing visual checks or looking over their shoulder for oncoming traffic or pedestrians.
  • About 25 percent of vehicle owners using forward collision warning or lane departure warning systems report feeling comfortable engaging in other tasks while driving.

“New vehicle safety technology is designed to make driving safer, but it does not replace the important role each of us plays behind the wheel,” Yang continued. “The prospect of self-driving cars is exciting, but we aren’t there yet.  Automakers have an ethical and important responsibility to accurately market, and to carefully educate consumers about the technologies we purchase in the vehicles we drive off the lot.”

As part of its ongoing traffic safety mission, new AAA Foundation research also evaluated the potential these popular advanced driver assistance technologies have in helping to reduce or prevent crashes. The findings show that if installed on all vehicles, ADAS technologies can potentially prevent more than 2.7 million crashes, 1.1 million injuries and nearly 9,500 deaths each year:

ADAS Systems Crashes Injuries Deaths
Forward Collision Warning/ Automatic Emergency Braking 1,994,000 884,000 4,738
Lane Departure Warning / Lane Keeping Assist 519,000 187,000 4,654
Blind Spot Warning 318,000 89,000 274
Total Potentially Preventable by all systems 2,748,000 1,128,000 9,496

Despite the findings that show confusion about some ADAS technologies, at least 70 percent of vehicle owners report that they would recommend the technology to other drivers. The greatest proportion of drivers reported trusting blind spot monitoring systems (84 percent), followed by rear-cross traffic alert (82 percent), lane departure warning (77 percent), lane keeping assist (73 percent), forward collision warning (69 percent) and automatic emergency braking (66 percent).

These findings should prompt additional focus on the importance of educating new and used car buyers about how safety technologies work. “The training drivers need to properly use the safety technologies in their vehicles is not currently offered,” added Nelson. “If educating consumers about vehicle technology was as much a priority for the automakers and dealers as making the sale, we would all reap the benefits.”

Only about half of the drivers who report purchasing their vehicle from a car dealership recalled being offered a training on the ADAS technology. However, for those who were, nearly 90 percent took advantage of the opportunity and completed the training.

For now, drivers are their best safety advocate to ensure that they understand their technology’s features, functions and limitations before leaving the lot. In order to reduce misuse or overreliance on the systems, AAA encourages drivers to:

  • Read up: Read your owner’s manual to learn what systems are installed in your vehicle.
  • See it in action: Insist on an in-vehicle demonstration and test drive to better understand how the systems will engage on the roadway.
  • Ask questions: Ask plenty of questions about the alerts, functions, capabilities and limitations of the vehicle’s safety technologies before leaving the dealership. For example, ask if there are scenarios when a technology will not function properly on the road.

For additional resources, visit AAA.com/DriverAssistanceSystem. AAA’s classroom or online Roadwise Driver course can also help drivers learn more about the functions and limitations of popular ADAS technologies available on new vehicles. 

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 59 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 36 motor clubs and nearly 1,100 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. To join, visit AAA.com.

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.

Additional Resources

“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.

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