THE MATURE DRIVERS TASK FORCE
|The Mature Drivers Task Force (MDTF), established in 2000, is dedicated to the safety and mobility of older Pennsylvanians and represents a commitment on the part of PennDOT to ensure that mature drivers and pedestrians in Pennsylvania are safe and feel safe while traveling the state’s highways and interstates.|
All trends indicate that the majority of the public’s transportation needs into the next century will continue to be met by the private automobile. Mobility is essential to everyone’s quality of life. The loss of mobility can be devastating to the lives of older Pennsylvanians, and most of us want to drive for as long as we safely can. Many older people are capable, and have a lifetime of valuable driving experience behind them to draw upon.
It is our hope that mature drivers maintain their mobility, independence and quality of life as long as safely possible and that we address their safety concerns. Through a collaborative effort among drivers, their families, and the community, measures must be developed to keep our older drivers active and mobile.
The Task Force is a coalition of organizations, advocating for the health, highway-safety and transportation interests and needs of older Pennsylvanians.
PennDOT will continually seek to balance the safety of our roadways with the impact of the loss of independence, autonomy, and mobility of the older driver.
WHO IS THE MATURE DRIVER? SOME STATISTICS
Mature Drivers – Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow
The Little Old Lady in the convertible to the graying guy on the Harley - that's today's "mature driver." Mature drivers today have changing attitudes and different needs than those who came of age on our highways years ago. Today there are generations of mature drivers on the road, each with unique and needs and concerns!
Mature drivers and pedestrians are defined as individuals who are 55 years of age or older. They make up nearly 20 percent of the drivers in NEPA.
Pennsylvania has nearly 1.5 million licensed drivers aged 65 and older and they make up almost 17 percent of our driving population.
By 2020 there will be roughly 40 million senior drivers aged 65 and over on the road.
We are the fourth largest state in population that is age 65 or older. Older citizens constitute the fastest growing segment of the population. Pennsylvania State Data Center statistics indicate that the number of Pennsylvanians 65 and older will increase 21 percent by 2020.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration predicts that fatalities among senior drivers will reach 23, 000 by the year 2030.
Ninety-five percent of older people do not use public transportation, so staying independent means continuing to drive. This is especially true of states like Pennsylvania, which has a very rural population. It is very difficult for people to function in rural areas without private transportation.
Older drivers tend to have better driving records than other age groups. Crash statistics indicate that young drivers age 16-19 are involved in crashes more often than any other age group. It is not until a driver reaches the age of 80 and older that the crash rate increases to become second only to that of the youngest driver.
Older drivers are over-represented in certain types of crashes involving more complex driving tasks:
o failure to properly yield the right of way,
o improper left turns across traffic,
o pulling out into traffic
o making abrupt and improper lane changes.
Older drivers tend to have more major injuries and fatalities in comparison to younger drivers. A crash that may cause a broken bone in a younger person may be a fatal injury to an older person.
Pedestrians, ages 65 and older, are two to eight times more likely to die than younger people when struck by motor vehicles.
WHO MAKES UP THE MATURE DRIVERS TASK FORCE?
The MDTF is made up of volunteers from a wide cross-section of the community including senior citizens, advocates, law enforcement, medical, insurance and business professionals.
Our current members are representatives of PennDOT, AAA, several Agencies on Aging, the Alzheimers Association, the Northeast Highway Safety Program, the Pennsylvania State Police, Allied Services/John Heinz Institute, Oakwood Terrace Assisted Living Community, The Senior Network Alliance, private business and senior citizens. One of our task force members is an expert on modifying vehicles to fit the drivers’ changing needs!
Through the efforts of Mature Drivers Task Forces, street signs are now larger and easier to read at night.
The group also had a role in developing a booklet entitled, ‘Driving Safely as You Get Older,’ a personal guide which helps mature drivers recognize signs of change.
AASHTO, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, chose PennDOT’s Mature Drivers Task Force to receive a Team Excellence Award and a Trailblazer Award for Quality Team Achievement.
CONCERNS ADDRESSED BY THE TASK FORCE:
The MDTF initiates dialogue, identifies feasible solutions for the transportation concerns of mature drivers and their families and makes valuable recommendations for change. PennDOT engineers continue to make improvements to the roadway to help all drivers.
Discussions focus on:
o Maintaining a healthy lifestyle that will enable mature drivers to travel safely in their vehicles.
o Advising drivers as to the regular maintenance of their vehicles.
o Ensuring that vehicles “fit” the driver to enable proper driving behaviors.
o Educating mature drivers as to the changes in laws and innovations on the roadways.
o Educating all motorists as to their responsibility in sharing the road.
o Helping families determine when mature drivers must make the transition from driver to passenger.
o Providing information on alternative transportation options to assist individuals when driving is no longer feasible.
o Improving the confidence and driving capabilities of older drivers.
o Advocating for increased highway safety for mature drivers and pedestrians.
o Building our network in order to strengthen the Task Force as a clearing house of information and resources.
Our programming includes:
o Pedestrian crossing events – Reviewing the "Golden Rules" of ped safety.
o Visits to senior centers to review pedestrian safety, signage, questions regarding driving in general and to listen to concerns.
o Help families with the resources they need to talk about aging parents transitioning from driver to passenger.
o Helping sponsor AAA Mid Atlantic’s CarFit program which asks, “How well does your car fit you?” If motorists were all properly seated, with correct adjustments and alignments available in all vehicles, our roads would be a safer place!
The Mature Driver Survey
In 2005, PennDOT District 4-0 and task force members conducted a survey of mature drivers at 35 senior centers in the six counties of District 4-0 that addressed driving and safety concerns and tested the knowledge of participants. The seniors' concerns regarding aggressive drivers, speeding, increased trucks on the road, tailgating and drivers’ cell phone and text usage is helping the Task Force determine its future programming.
RESOURCES AND WEB SITES:
Mature Drivers' issues are discussed in great detail on the Drive Safe PA web site.
Visit to learn more about:
o Physical changes and medical interactions,
o Driving tips to keep the Mature Driver on the road safely,
o Advice for families who are concerned about their loved one's ability to drive,
o Mature Driver Improvement Courses and driver refreshment programs,
o Transportation alternatives
o organizations and resources that can help older drivers, their families and friends get more information.
THE TASK FORCE WANTS YOU!!
The Mature Drivers Task Force is in need of members who have an interest in issues and opportunities for mature drivers in Pennsylvania. If you are a business person, a representative of the transit industry, an insurance company, physician or the health care industry, trucking industry, government or a senior citizen, your talents are welcome! Meetings are held quarterly at the PennDOT District 4-0 office in the Keystone Industrial Park in Dunmore. For information on joining or to hear more about the Task Force and its activities, please call Michael Taluto, safety press officer, at 570-963-3502 weekdays or email