History of Falling Increases Crash Risk for Older Drivers

New partnership promotes safety and mobility by preventing falls


MADISON, Wisc. (Dec. 5, 2016) – A recent study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety suggests that seniors and their families should view falls as a possible early indicator of risk behind the wheel.

According to the research, older drivers with a history of falling are 40 percent more likely to be involved in crashes than their peers. In light of the connection established by this report, AAA Wisconsin is partnering with the Wisconsin Institute for Healthy Aging (WIHA) to sponsor the Stepping On initiative in communities throughout the state.


“Drivers age 60 and older are involved in more than 400,000 crashes each year, and it’s important that we find ways to keep them and others safe on the road,” said Nick Jarmusz, director of public affairs for AAA Wisconsin. “This research is critical because it shows that falls prevention initiatives like Stepping On can help identify and reduce the risk for a crash.”


Falls can increase crash risk by causing injuries such as wrist fractures or broken legs that can make it difficult for older drivers to steer or brake to avoid a crash.  They can also increase an individual’s fear of falling, which can lead to a decrease in physical activity that weakens driving skills.  Stepping On is a scientifically-researched prevention program proven to reduce the incidence of falls among participants by 50%.


“Falls are a big problem everywhere, but especially in Wisconsin,” said Betsy Abramson, executive director of WIHA. “We rank second in fall-related deaths in the U.S. – more than twice the national rate.  This partnership with AAA Wisconsin is a significant step in building awareness of the impact of falls, engaging older adults in an intervention like Stepping On, and ultimately, in decreasing falls and car crashes amongst older adults in Wisconsin.”


Stepping On workshops are offered by various healthcare and local aging service providers such as aging offices and Aging & Disability Resource Centers (ADRCs) throughout the state, administered by WIHA.  Since 2007, over 12,000 older adults in Wisconsin have participated in the program.  WIHA anticipates that with the help of AAA Wisconsin, 2,000 new participants will be able to attend workshops in 2017. For more information about classes, dates, and locations, visit www.wihealthyaging.org/stepping-on.


Additional resources for older drivers from AAA, including online or classroom RoadWise Driver courses and the CarFit program, can be found at www.SeniorDriving.AAA.com.


The Wisconsin Institute for Healthy Aging (WIHA) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit clearinghouse for evidence-based healthy aging programs in Wisconsin.  Together with partners all across the state, WIHA helps Wisconsin residents take steps to improve their health and well-being as they age by providing researched and proven programs to better manage on-going health problems, assist family caregivers, and reduce the risk of falls and the injuries they cause through the Stepping On program. For more information or to find a workshop in Wisconsin, visit wihealthyaging.org.


Established by AAA in 1947, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit, publicly-supported charitable educational and research organization. Dedicated to saving lives and reducing injuries on our roads, the Foundation’s mission is to prevent crashes and save lives through research and education about traffic safety. The Foundation has funded over 300 research projects designed to discover the causes of traffic crashes, prevent them and minimize injuries when they do occur.  Visit www.AAAFoundation.org for more information on this and other research.


The Auto Club Group (ACG) is the second largest AAA club in North America.  ACG and its affiliates provide membership, travel, insurance and financial services offerings to approximately 9 million members across 11 states and two U.S. territories including Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands; most of Illinois and Minnesota; and a portion of Indiana.  ACG belongs to the national AAA federation with nearly 55 million members in the United States and Canada and whose mission includes protecting and advancing freedom of mobility and improving traffic safety.