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Older drivers often involved in daytime crashes more severe than younger drivers' crashes
Date:4/15/2010

Kansas State University researchers are discovering the challenges aging creates for drivers.

To help improve traffic safety, K-State engineers identified the characteristics of older drivers in Kansas and the types of crashes they are involved in. Their research found most car accidents involving older drivers occur during the daytime and are more severe, often ending in injury or fatality, than those for younger populations.

With this knowledge, the researchers will follow up with a study to learn what changes can be made to improve these difficulties for older drivers. The focus will be on countermeasures to reduce the number of crashes involving older drivers and the severity of the crashes.

"Highway safety of older drivers is an issue," said Sunanda Dissanayake, K-State associate professor of civil engineering. "If you live in an area like Kansas, there's not much public transportation, so drivers have to rely on a personal vehicle. The older population should be able to drive. It's a significant predictor of their quality of life."

Dissanayake started the project, which is funded by the Kansas Department of Transportation, in 2008 with Loshaka Perera, a former K-State graduate student in civil engineering. Dissanayake presented the research in March at the Institute of Transportation Engineers Annual Meeting

For the study, older drivers were defined as people 65 years and older. The researchers analyzed Kansas crash data from 1997 to 2006, which included crashes based on involvement and severity. The data were analyzed and compared among drivers aged 15 to 25, drivers aged 25 to 65, and older drivers.

"If you look at the number of total crashes in Kansas involving older drivers, it's not that much. That's because they don't drive as much as the rest of the population," Dissanayake said. "But if you look at crash involvement per mile driven, that's very high for older drivers."

The crash analy
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Contact: Sunanda Dissanayake
sunanda@k-state.edu
785-532-1540
Kansas State University
Source:Eurekalert

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