Pennsylvania kicked off Older Driver Safety Week by highlighting the resources the Commonwealth provides older drivers to address the unique challenges they face. A quarter of Pennsylvania’s licensed drivers are 65 years of age or older, underscoring the critical need for these resources.
Pennsylvania has a network of shared-ride service providers dedicated to keeping older adults mobile, safe, and engaged in their community. This free transportation program allows citizens aged 65 or older to ride for free on a local, fixed-route service whenever local public transportation is operating. During FY 2022-23, there were more than 2.2 million Senior Shared Rides.
“Mobility is essential to quality of life at any age,” said Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) Secretary Mike Carroll. “While many older drivers have a lifetime of valuable driving experience to draw from, PennDOT continually seeks to balance the safety of our roadways with the need for independence and autonomy.”
Approximately 25 percent of Pennsylvania’s 9.1 million licensed drivers are 65 and older. In 2022, there were 20,590 crashes involving at least one driver aged 65 or older that resulted in 287 total fatalities. This represents 17.7% of all crashes and 24.3% of all fatalities. Older drivers generally have fewer crashes per driver than the national average – but they have more crashes per mile of driving.
“Driver safety is an important part of how older adults navigate in our community but what is equally important is working with our partners to provide accessible and flexible transportation alternatives to older adults. Pennsylvania is fortunate that our lottery proceeds help to fund alternative services in transportation for its older citizens,” said Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Aging (PDA) Jason Kavulich.
While every person ages differently, aging typically brings certain — sometimes subtle — physical, visual, and cognitive changes that could impair an older person’s ability to drive safely. Older drivers and their families should work together to identify potential issues that may affect driving, outline courses of action to assist the older driver, and plan for when it’s time to hang up the keys.
Signs that can indicate it may be time to limit or stop driving altogether include:
- Feeling uncomfortable, fearful, or nervous when driving;
- Unexplained dents/scrapes on the car, fences, mailboxes, or garage doors;
- Frequently getting lost and frequent “close calls” (i.e. almost crashing);
- Slower response times, particularly to unexpected situations;
- Difficulty paying attention to signs or staying in the lane of traffic; and
- Trouble judging gaps at intersections or highway entrance/exit ramps.