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22 CHAPTER FOUR CONCLUSIONS General Findings on Older Drivers to drive safely that can assist industry and labor practitio- ners in promoting safer commercial operations. It may also The literature review makes clear that aging has a profound inform the broader commercial vehicle safety community effect on the human mind and body, with a present emphasis and the FMCSA in developing policies and regulations that on changes known to impair drivers' capabilities in ways protect public safety without penalizing drivers on the basis that are recognized as crash risk factors. However, much of their age. of that literature is based on research performed on signifi- cantly older persons than one finds in the commercial driver This report provides the following: population. Even for the general driving population, it is uncommon to find studies showing a significant increase in · Statement of the background and the problem that crash risk for persons age 70 or younger. brought about this particular project. · A literature review on changes in medical (functional) The literature review also suggests that even with the fitness to drive that affect older drivers generally and physical and cognitive changes in older persons, older driv- older commercial drivers specifically. ers can often compensate for those changes by making · The results of a series of structured interviews with better decisions and demonstrating better judgment while carriers and others in the trucking industry regarding driving. The Llaneras et al. (1995) research, which studied older commercial drivers. active Commercial Driver License (CDL) drivers of all ages, · Conclusions and suggestions. showed that drivers over age 60 made fewer errors and had fewer near misses than their younger counterparts. Although The synthesis team conducted a comprehensive literature this study was conducted in a driving simulator, feedback review on the topic of age as it pertains to driving. The team from industry indicates that these data support the general also planned surveys of commercial truck carriers, motor view of the older commercial driver. coach companies, school bus associations and companies, industry organizations (e.g., ATA), insurance companies, state departments of transportation, and other relevant orga- General Findings on Older Commercial nizations. However, recent surveys of the trucking indus- Drivers try have been hampered by low response levels. With the concurrence of the synthesis sponsor, the FMCSA, the team Although the research data on older persons and, older driv- opted for in-person and telephone interviews to determine ers in general, are quite broad, the research findings for whether industry safety managers and state motor vehicle older commercial drivers are quite limited. The Llaneras et administrators perceive a need for any unique testing of al. (1995) study noted earlier strongly suggests that healthy, older commercial drivers. active older commercial drivers need not provide an exag- gerated risk to traffic safety. Although counterintuitive, The literature review worked from general findings about both the research and the large truck crash data support this the physiological and psychological effects of aging, to the stance. Most important is the evidence showing that loss of specific literature pertaining to aging effects on driving, and function for any driver underlies a higher risk of crash causa- finally to specific literature on older commercial drivers. tion, regardless of age. The review also looked for current documentation of older commercial driver safety data, policies, or local regulations pertaining to older commercial drivers, and any findings in Summary Europe, Asia, or Australia relevant to this synthesis. To the extent that medical conditions and medications are singled This draft final report presents the results of CTBSSP MC-18 out for discussion in this review, it is based on their preva- entitled: Older Commercial Drivers: Do They Pose a Safety lence in the overall aging population, not on the results of Risk? This report provides a knowledge base regarding epidemiological research conducted strictly within the older age-related changes in the basic functional abilities needed commercial driver population.