NHTSA Proposes Safety Standards For Older Drivers

The elderly among us can be a bit sensitive, so I’ll try to phrase this gently (but also loudly, as they can be heard of hearing): SOMETIMES, GRANDMA, WE WORRY ABOUT YOUR DRIVING.

There, I think Grandma heard me. Luckily, the US government has heard as well, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is looking out for all of us who were able to not only see REO Speedwagon in concert, but were able to buy one off the showroom floor as well.

In a report released this week (PDF) by NHTSA, the government announced it is considering a “Silver Car Rating System” to rate which cars are the safest for elderly drivers in a collision:

Ultimately, older consumers could use NCAP silver car rating information to help them select and purchase vehicles that would be potentially safer for them. For example, inflatable seat belts or technologies that help prevent low speed pedal misapplication may have potential benefits for older occupants.

Yes, they said “low speed pedal misapplication,” which seemed to be the real factor behind at least some of those Toyota lawsuits. If you don’t remember then-U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said that "there is no electronic-based cause for unintended high-speed acceleration in Toyotas. Period.”

Inflatable seatbelts are all well and good, I suppose, but what technologies could be used to not only detect an elderly driver, but also detect what they want to do? I mean, Mario Andretti could be considered an elderly driver, but maybe sometimes he wants to stomp on the fast pedal.

Or do they just assume that because you’re driving a beige Toyota Avalon, you’re bound to remember silent films anyway?

Suggest some of your ideas to help keep the elderly with us a few more years in the comments!

Photo credit: Flickr user Shalf