Cars May Receive Safety Ratings for Older Occupants
Chicago, IL (Law Firm Newswire) May 15, 2013 – The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has proposed a car rating system for older occupants.
The NHTSA is asking for comments in the Federal Register for the proposed system, which would provide a “silver car” rating in the New Car Assessment Program (NCAP). The proposal asks if there are aspects of car performance that would address the needs of older drivers and passengers in particular, including features that might make vehicles safer in the event of a car accident.
“More older drivers are on the road than ever before, and older drivers have the highest fatality rates in serious collisions,” said Robert Briskman, a Chicago car accident attorney. “Improvements in auto safety are needed to protect drivers and passengers of all ages.”
According to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), 16 percent of licensed drivers are age 65 or older, and by 2025 that figure is expected to increase by 20 percent. Car accidents are a top cause of injury-related fatalities in the older population. For drivers age 85 and older, the fatality rate per mile driven is nine times higher than for drivers age 25 to 69.
The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a group that includes some of the biggest automakers, has said it will offer comments on the NHTSA's proposal.
Many seniors and safety experts will likely welcome the concept of the “silver car” system. However, some people may not be excited about the idea of a car that is labeled as safer for seniors. A representative of the American Automobile Association (AAA) said that many older drivers do not want to purchase a car that is thought of as a stereotypical older person's vehicle.
In developing smart-car features for seniors, AAA found that a better approach was to focus features that are helpful for particular conditions that some seniors may have, which can vary. For instance, someone with arthritis would benefit from features such as a push button starter and a thicker steering wheel that is easier to grasp. Shorter drivers would find adjustable gas and brake pedals useful.
Other proposed additions to NCAP include advanced frontal lights, blind spot detection tools, lane departure prevention technology and crash-imminent braking systems. Online comments about the proposed changes may be made at www.regulations.gov, referencing docket number NHTSA-2012-0180, through July 5, 2013.
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