Washington, DC - CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) released a new web resource to help employers and workers adopt practices that keep workers age 55 or older safe on the road. The release coincides with Older Americans Month and aligns with the NIOSH Center for Motor Vehicle Safety’s goal to prevent work-related motor vehicle crashes and resulting injuries.
Employers and workers share the responsibility to keep older workers safe on the road. The fact sheet, Older Drivers in the Workplace: How Employers and Workers Can Prevent Crashes, provides information on age-related physical and mental changes that may affect workers’ ability to drive safely. Employers can develop safety and health programs that consider older drivers’ needs, and workers can be proactive in maintaining safe driving skills.
Data from the U.S. Department of Labor shows that between 1994 and 2014, employment of workers 65 years and older increased by 117% in the U.S. – a trend that is expected to continue. By the year 2020, older workers will be 25 percent of the U.S. workforce and many will have jobs that require them to drive. More than 40 million licensed drivers will be 65 years and older.
NIOSH’s National Center for Productive Aging and Work (NCPAW) explains that the relationship between driving behavior and aging is not a simple one. Research shows that older drivers are more likely than their younger counterparts to adopt safe behaviors such as wearing a seat belt and complying with speed limits. However, if involved in a work-related motor vehicle crash, they have a greater risk of being seriously injured or killed because of the increased vulnerability of the body to traumatic injury that comes with age. It is important for employers to consider accommodating the needs and capacities of older workers through safety policies and training so they may continue contributing to the workforce under the safest conditions possible.
In this age of mobile devices and non-traditional work schedules, a safe driving program should include standard policies and practices that help prevent distracted and drowsy driving, as well as other best practices such as seat belt use. Employers also can use principles of journey management and flexible scheduling that make driving for work safer for all employees. Practices that may particularly benefit older drivers include:
- planning routes in advance
- allowing flexible work hours that keep workers off the road at peak congestion times
- authorizing workers to stop overnight if they are too tired to continue driving
- providing refresher training that includes safe-driving strategies, changes in road rules, and training in new vehicle safety features that sometimes can be daunting for older drivers.