As people age, their physical, visual, and cognitive abilities may decline, making it more difficult for them to drive safely. Older drivers are also more likely to suffer injuries or die in crashes than drivers in other age groups. These safety issues will increase in significance because older adults represent the fastest-growing U.S. population segment. GAO examined (1) what the federal government has done to promote practices to make roads safer for older drivers and the extent to which states have implemented those practices, (2) the extent to which states assess the fitness of older drivers and what support the federal government has provided, and (3) what initiatives selected states have implemented to improve the safety of older drivers. To conduct this study, GAO surveyed 51 state departments of transportation (DOT), visited six states, and interviewed federal transportation officials.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of Transportation||1. To help states prepare for the substantial increase in the number of older drivers in the coming years, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the FHWA and NHTSA Administrators to implement a mechanism that would allow states to share information on leading practices for enhancing the safety of older drivers. This mechanism could also include information on other initiatives and guidance, such as FHWA's research on the effectiveness of road design practices and NHTSA's research on the effectiveness of driver fitness assessment practices.|