turning the corner...a review of law enforcement programs involving older driver safety


Many mobility issues must be addressed by policy makers and aging Americans. In the transportation industries alone, dozens of disciplines are devising countless interventions aimed at older users: from engineering the roads of the future to making letters on road signs larger to enhancing public transportation modes. All these mechanisms will have an impact on both service delivery and end users. However, not all these issues pose an urgent concern for law enforcement. Even so, progressive, alert law enforcement officials are conscious that America’s seniors are turning the corner and still driving.
This guide is intended to help sheriffs and other law enforcement administrators identify and locate resources, develop and implement strategies, and train and equip personnel to effectively address concerns posed by older drivers in their communities.


  • People over 65 are the fastest-growing segment of the population in the United States – projected to reach 70 million by 2030.

  • Law enforcement will steadily encounter more elderly drivers on the road—one-fifth of the population will be over 65 by 2030. By 2020, there will be more than 40 million licensed drivers 65 and older.

  • Aging causes changes in psychomotor, cognitive, and visual abilities—all necessary for the safe operation of a motor vehicle.

    • Sheriffs need to know their States’ referral process for driver licensing and retesting for errant drivers.

  • Crash-related fatalities involving these drivers are projected to increase by 155 percent.

  • Senior drivers are over-represented in intersection crashes. Eighty-one percent of fatal crashes involving seniors occur during the day and most involve another vehicle. (Source: Traffic Safety Facts 2002 – Older Population.)

    • The office of sheriff needs to plan and take into account the resources needed for this increased workload.

    • The office of sheriff can also fill the role of facilitator by partnering with community agencies and senior citizen groups to provide seniors with driving safely information and education programs.