DEKRA presents the “Old-Age Mobility” Road Safety Report 2021
Senior Citizens at Greater Risk of Accidents
Whether traveling in their own cars, on their bicycles, or on foot, senior citizens across the globe are becoming increasingly mobile, and many are continuing to use the roads well into their later years in a variety of ways. Such mobility comes with a much higher risk of accidents for this demographic than for younger age groups. “We need to act fast to minimize this risk while still enabling older people to retain their mobility, so that they can continue to play an active role in society,” commented Jann Fehlauer, Managing Director of DEKRA Automobil GmbH on the findings of the DEKRA Road Safety Report 2021 entitled “Old-Age Mobility.” This is all the more important given the fact that the 65+ demographic will make up an ever-greater part of our overall population in the coming decades. This DEKRA Road Safety Report is the 14th edition to be published. It states there are plenty of places to start if we want to achieve these goals, shown by the many examples in the report of the roles played by the human factor, technology, and infrastructure.
- Particular risk for elderly people traveling on foot or by bicycle
- Technology can compensate for age-related deficits to a certain extent
- A proactive strategy that factors in all types of mobility is required
Many experts endorse the use and further development of driver assistance systems as a means of improving road safety for senior citizens. These systems can, to a certain extent, compensate for age-related performance deficits and can help to reduce the extent to which older drivers are involved in car accidents – or indeed cause them – as a result of driver error, for example. As a survey commissioned by DEKRA has shown, the 65+ age group is fundamentally very open to the idea of electronic assistants. However, it is important to note that it will take a long time for vehicles with assistance systems to achieve a high level of market penetration. For new safety systems, this will take an average of around 15 years after they become a mandatory requirement.
- To ensure that they use the roads safely, older people must be provided with intensive education on their performance and limitations.
- Regular practical evaluations should be mandatory for senior citizens over the age of 75; these play an important role in helping them maintain their skills.
- All the relevant players in the health care system must be given awareness training and the qualifications to provide older people with advice regarding whether it is safe for them to drive.
- To boost safety, driver assistance systems must become more widely used on the market.
- In-vehicle safety features across all vehicle models should become largely standardized so that they are as intuitive as possible to use.
- Depending on the prevailing local conditions, light signaling systems, pedestrian crossings (crosswalks), central islands or protruding curbs must be used to make crossings safer, especially for older pedestrians.
- In light of the fact that more and more people aged 65 and over are using bicycles and pedelecs, the expansion of the bicycle path network in accordance with road safety concerns and the maintenance of bicycle paths must be made a top priority.
- Anyone buying a pedelec – in particular older people – should be provided with in-depth advice and the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the unusual way they work before buying.
- In order to prevent cars from driving in the wrong direction on freeways as much as possible, suitable measures that help drivers to (intuitively) orient themselves in good time are required.
- Particularly in rural regions, models must be developed to enable older people to retain their mobility without having to drive a car themselves.s.