PennDOT honors Older Driver Safety Awareness Week

With Older Driver Safety Awareness Week being recognized nationally through Dec. 6, older drivers, their friends and families are advised that Pennsylvania has several resources available to help keep drivers of all ages safe.

“As Pennsylvania’s population ages and the number of older drivers on the highways rise, balancing the need for mobility among older drivers with safety on our roadways remains an important part of PennDOT’s mission,” PennDOT Secretary Barry J. Schoch said. “It is vital that older drivers and their families keep an open dialogue and work together to identify any potential issues, and take advantage of the available courses and information to keep safe driving paramount.”

Approximately 19 percent of Pennsylvania’s 8.9 million licensed drivers are 65 and older. In 2012, there were more than 18,000 crashes involving a driver 65 and older, resulting in 276 fatalities.

One way older drivers and their families can help lessen the chances of a crash is to take advantage of approved classroom and online driver-improvement courses available for older drivers. Courses are offered statewide and fees vary. A list of organizations offering the courses is available at www.JustDrivePA.com at the “Older Driver” link under the Traffic Safety Information tab.

An added benefit to taking approved driver-improvement courses is reduced insurance costs. According to the Pennsylvania Insurance Department, Pennsylvania law requires insurance companies to provide at least a 5 percent premium discount when policyholders 55 or older successfully complete an approved driver-improvement course.

If an older driver’s friends or family are concerned that the driver may not have the capacity to safely operate a vehicle any longer, a list of warning signs, safety tips and a “Talking with Older Drivers” publication is available on the “Older Driver” page at www.JustDrivePA.com.

Whether through necessity or mutual agreement with family members, older drivers who no longer drive have mobility options through two state public transportation programs. Public fixed-route bus service is available for free to senior citizens 65 and older. In addition, through the Shared Ride Program for Senior Citizens, advance reservation, curb-to-curb service is available in every Pennsylvania county for free or at a discounted rate. More information is available at www.PAcommutes.com.