By the year 2020, one in six people in America will be over 65 years of age. Even now, about 10,000 Americans turn 65 every day. This means that more and more older people will on our nation's roads and highways in the coming years. Unfortunately, some of these older drivers have vision and/or reflex impairments that can make them more likely to cause a car accident.
Accordingly, both family members and lawmakers will soon be forced to address the issue of how and when to restrict older people from driving.
This is not to say that all people over 65 are unsafe drivers. In fact, according to the director of traffic safety advocacy and research at the American Automobile Association, drivers aged 65 to 69 have the same rate of fatal auto wrecks as drivers in their 30s, and only drivers aged 85 and up have more fatal car crashes than teenagers.
In fact, David Snyder, the vice president of the American Insurance Association, said that fatal crash rates do not start to increase until age 70.
"So a large segment of this aging population is actually good risk and better risk than younger populations, so that's a good thing overall," he said. "The collective challenge for all of us is to identify problems and help families make decisions for older drivers."
Indeed, as people age, their eyesight and reflexes start to diminish, affecting their ability to safely drive a car. Experts say that family members are often in the best position to notice signs of impairment. Also, by helping to drive elderly people where they need to go, family members and caregivers can make it easier for seniors to make the difficult transition from being drivers to non-drivers.
Current state laws vary, with some, but not all, states requiring seniors to renew their licenses in person, renew them more frequently, and/or take more frequent vision and road tests. Here in Pennsylvania, however, seniors are able to renew their licenses by mail or email.
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If you have lost a loved one in a car accident or due to the reckless actions of another, it's important to remember that you have rights and you have options. An attorney who can answer your questions and explain your rights can prove to be an indispensable ally.
This post was provided for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.
Fox News, "Diminished motor skills: 'Silver tsunami' of elderly drivers prompts tough decisions," Joshua Rhett Miller, April 16, 2012