Older workers (those ages 55 and older) bring extensive skills, knowledge, and experience built over the course of a lifespan. However, age-related physical and mental changes may affect older workers’ driving. While such changes are normal, they also put older drivers at a greater risk of dying if they are in a motor vehicle crash.
By year 2020:
- 25% of workers will be 55 years or older1
- 30% of Americans will be 55 years or older2
- 40 million licensed drivers will be 65 years or older3
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) says 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, those age 55 and older have twice the risk of dying in a work-related crash than younger workers do.4 It is normal for physical and mental abilities to decline with age – putting older workers at greater risk of serious injury if they are involved in a motor vehicle crash.
Motor vehicle crashes account for 32% of all work-related deaths among workers age 55 or older.5
Here’s how employers can keep older drivers safe:
- Consider whether the work can be done without driving. Reducing the amount of driving workers do is the most effective way to prevent motor vehicle crashes.
- Set policies that allow drivers to consult with their supervisors to adjust driving hours if they have trouble seeing at night, and to stop driving if they are too tired or the weather is bad.
- Provide “refresher” driving training that includes topics such as safe-driving strategies, changes in road rules, regulations on distracted driving, and new vehicle safety features.
- Restrict driving based on assessment of actual driving ability, rather than general health status or an arbitrary age limit.
- Give workers general information about the possible effects of prescription and over-the-counter medications on their driving.
Resources for employers:
- NIOSH Center for Productive Aging and Work
- Learn how to promote the safety of workers of all ages and their lifelong well-being.
- CDC Older Adult Drivers
- Understand how the risk of being injured or killed in a motor vehicle crash increases with age and learn about prevention strategies.
- Roadwise RXExternal
- Encourage workers to use this resource from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety to learn how medications can affect their driving.
For a full list of recommendations and resources, download the Older Drivers in the Workplace fact sheet.
1 Tossi, M. (2012) Employment outlook: 2010-2020. Labor force projections to 2020: a more slowly growing workforce. Monthly Labor Review, January 2013, 43-64.
2U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division (2014) Table 9. Projections of the Population by Sex and Age for the United States: 2015 to 2060Cdc-excelExternal (NP2014-T9).
3Dellinger AM, Langlois JA, Li G. Fatal crashes among older drivers: decomposition of rates into contributing factors. Am J Epidemiol 2002;155(3):234–41.
4Based on 2011-2013 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational InjuriesExternal query system and 2011-2013 Employed Labor Force (ELF) population data.
52011-2013 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries query systemExternal.