Agencies Announce New Coalition Program to Assist Senior Drivers
Nashville – Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner Gerald Nicely joined representatives from the Governor’s Highway Safety Office, Department of Safety, Department of Health, Federal Highway Administration, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, AARP, AAA Auto Club South, and a number of other highway safety partners to sign a new Strategic Highway Safety Plan for Tennessee on Wednesday, September 30. The goal of the new plan is to reduce the number of fatalities in Tennessee by 10% by 2012.
“Working together, we have the ability to make dramatic strides in making Tennessee’s roads safer,” said TDOT Commissioner Gerald Nicely. “As a major partner in this effort, TDOT is increasing its focus on implementing improvements that can make roadways safer, like cable barrier rail, high visibility pavement markings, and improved directional signs.”
The Strategic Highway Safety Plan brings together a number of agencies to work toward the common goal of reducing the number of people killed or injured in highway crashes in Tennessee each year.
GHSO Director Kendell Poole highlighted the success of the 2006-2008 Strategic Highway Safety Plan. “The good news is the number of deadly crashes in Tennessee dropped nearly 14% between 2007 and 2008. The bad news is there were still more than 1,000 people who died in crashes in our state last year. We want to see that number decline even more and are pledging today to reduce fatal crashes by another 10% by 2012.”
The new Strategic Highway Safety Plan again focuses on the four “E’s”: Education, Enforcement, Engineering, and Emergency Response, with a goal of having fewer than 900 fatalities on Tennessee highways by 2012. The new plan also includes a new program designed to educate senior drivers. When crash and fatality rates are calculated, older drivers, much like teen drivers, are over-represented.
“All drivers, whether it’s teens just learning to drive or seniors who’ve been driving for decades, need to be consistently reminded about safe driving practices and updated on new traffic laws,” said Department of Safety Deputy Commissioner Greta Dajani. “The new Senior Driver Safety Education Program will give seniors the information they need to stay up to date on new traffic laws and other safety measures they can take to improve their driving skills.”
TDOT worked with members of the Coalition for the Enhancement of Senior Drivers to develop two handbooks for seniors and their family members or care givers. The books are designed to help facilitate an open dialog about the challenges and opportunities facing senior drivers today.
The Tennessee Strategic Highway Safety Plan was developed by a committee made up of representatives from TDOT, TDOS, FHWA, FMCSA, and the GHSO. Some of the strategies outlined by the committee include safety conscious planning with the aging population in mind:
- Improved signs and highway markings
- Stakeholder partnerships
- Improved highway components and work zones
- Education and Awareness Programs
The Tennessee Strategic Highway Safety Plan will be guided and monitored by the Commissioners of Transportation and Safety, as well as the Federal Highway Administration. To view the entire Strategic Highway Safety Plan and the two manuals developed for senior drivers and their families and caregivers, please visit www.tn.gov/tdot/incident/default.htm.