More senior citizens are dying in car crashes as the number of older drivers increases, national studies show.
The trend has prompted the Arizona Department of Public Safety to adopt a program to train incoming officers on how to lower risks for seniors on the road.
"One of the deals law enforcement faces is that most police officers don’t like to write someone a ticket who reminds them of grandma," said Lt. Bob Ticer, who helped develop the program. "But if there has been a pattern of verbal warnings where someone keeps making the same mistake, then they may be at risk as a driver."
The program aims to hold senior citizens accountable for their driving and refer them to driver safety programs, while teaching officers to be understanding and sensitive.
"Older drivers tend to recognize there is some problem when they are driving," said James Jensen, a deputy in Douglas County, Colo., who is helping train officers in the program.
"They adjust to it in ways such as driving in the daytime or only turning right."
The program, which is funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, was tested with one agency in Florida before coming to Arizona.
• Drivers 70 and older will soon make up 10 percent of all licensed drivers
• The United States had 19.9 million licensed drivers 70 and older in 2002, and that number is projected to reach 30 million by 2020
Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration