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Board Certified | Workers' Compensation Specialist | Connecticut Bar Association

Seniors may face new driving regulations as feds crackdown on safety

Seniors may face new driving regulations as feds crackdown on safety

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is attempting to increase the nation's roadways by cracking down on the guidelines used for seniors in the U.S. The agency notes that the population of individuals over the age of 65 has increased by 20 percent since 2003, translating to over 35 million seniors licensed to drive in 2012. Ultimately, NHTSA hopes to reduce the risk of motor vehicle accidents with these new guidelines.

The statement, released on December 5th of 2013, outlines NHTSA's top concerns regarding the driving habits of those over the age of 65 and how the agency plans to address these issues over the next five years. The concerns focus on three main areas: vehicle safety, driver behavior and improved data collection.

Vehicle safety

NHTSA notes that technological innovations could play a key role in the safety of the nation's roadways. A key innovation includes crash avoidance technologies. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) echoes these claims, stating that although it is still relatively early to make substantiated claims since the technology is so new, it does appear to reduce the risk of crashes and injuries for senior drivers.

How exactly do these technologies help? IIHS points out that forward collision avoidance systems with autonomous braking help vehicles to stop before rear-ending another automobile. Adaptive headlights are also helpful, proactively adjusting the amount of light to help drivers see better at night when navigating curved roads. This system helps by pivoting the beam to provide light in the direction the vehicle is traveling, illuminating the curve ahead.

Even low-scale technological advances are helpful. Most notable: simply making displays and controls larger and brighter so seniors can more easily read them.

Driver behavior and improved data collection

Experts with the agency admit that age alone is not a determining factor for the ability to safely handle a vehicle. Instead, the agency is focusing on changes in vision, cognition and physical strength.

The agency further acknowledges that further research is needed. NHTSA is adjusting data collection systems to better understand how changes associated with age truly impact driving ability.

Additional concerns: work related claims

Since more and more seniors are working well past retirement age, some may be concerned that these regulations could impact their job. As long as an individual follows their local DMV's licensing requirements, there should be nothing to worry about. However, if a driver of any age is involved in an accident while completing tasks within his or her work description, it is also important to note that workers' compensation benefits may be available.

Importance of legal counsel

Whether injured in an accident caused by an individual who should not be driving or attempting to navigation the workers' compensation benefits program, an attorney is recommended. In either situation a legal professional will review your case and help you to determine the best course of action to better ensure your legal rights and any potential remedies are protected.