With more than 400 crashes during a three-year span, Street Road in Bensalem ranks second-highest within a five-county region for vehicle crashes involving senior citizens.
Route 30 in Lower Merion Township in Montgomery County tops the list with 495 crashes during the period of Jan. 1, 2010 through Dec. 31, 2012, as compared to 408 senior-involved crashes in Bensalem, according to data compiled by the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission.
In addition to Bensalem's high ranking among senior crashes, Street Road in nearby Warminster Township–near Ann's Choice Retirement Community, Walmart and other shopping centers–was noted as a top crash corridor with 31 crashes and 23 injuries from Jan. 1, 2008 through Dec. 31, 2012.
The newly-compiled data shows the top locations where Philadelphia-area seniors are getting into crashes. The top crash corridors, according to a press release from AAA, are busy commercial highways, close to shops, senior centers and residential areas.
A task force comprised of the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, county highway safety agencies and AAA Mid-Atlantic is starting to take a look at the information to see how to address the issue with educational programs and engineering measures – for example, scheduling older driver safety programs in the hotspot areas, and potential improvements to signage and signals.Besides possible road and signage improvements envisioned for Bensalem and other trouble spots in Montgomery, Delaware, Chester and Philadelphia counties, AAA suggests that senior drivers help themselves become safer, particularly during Older Driver Safety Awareness Week, which continues through Friday.
AAA.com/SeniorDriving is a free, one-stop Web site with state-specific driver information and features such as Roadwise Rx to check the effects of medications, links to senior driver courses, and Smart Features for Older Drivers, listing specific vehicle features that are helpful to older adults.
According to PennDOT, during the last year, there were 276 fatalities involving a driver who was 65 years old or older, an increase of 32 deaths compared to 2011, and about 21 percent of the state's 1,310 total highway fatalities.
There are nearly 1.5 million licensed drivers aged 65 and older in the Commonwealth, making up 17 percent of Pennsylvania's driving population, according to Brad Rudolph, PennDOT safety press officer.
This is particularly important since nearly 90 percent of senior drivers say it’s important to keep driving – and they will do what it takes to stay safe, according to a survey by the American Automobile Association. Helping to dispel the all-too-common myth that seniors are dangerous drivers, AAA’s survey indicates that motorists age 65 and older often avoid driving situations that put them at greater risk of a crash.
In fact, 80 percent of senior drivers voluntarily avoid one or more high-risk driving situations. More than half (61 percent) of these drivers avoid driving in bad weather; 50 percent avoid night driving; 42 percent avert trips in heavy traffic and 37 percent avoid unfamiliar roads.