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In Time, Old Age May Trump Driving Experience

Casper, Meadows, Schwartz & Cook

Statistics have shown that driving ability may decline among elderly drivers. Many older drivers are involved in fatal accidents.

It may be just as difficult for a person to ask an older loved one to give up the keys as it is for a senior to relinquish the right to drive. However, there are many older drivers in California, as well as the rest of the country, who may no longer be able to drive safely. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that about 15 older Americans are killed in car crashes every day. An additional 500 are injured daily in car accidents.

One reason may be that driving ability tends to decline in old age. According to Consumer Reports, drivers older than 80 are up to six times more likely to be in a fatal collision than other drivers. There are numerous factors that can increase this risk.

Age-related conditions may cause more accidents

A number of physical and mental impairments commonly attributed to aging may decrease driving ability, states NIH Senior Health. These may include the following:

  • Cognitive conditions, such as the early onset of dementia or Alzheimer's disease
  • Declining vision and hearing
  • Reduced reflexes and ability to recognize and react to hazards
  • Physical impairments, such as diabetes or complications from a stroke
  • Restricted movement due to injuries or arthritis
  • Fatigue or drowsiness as a result of medications

Many states have enacted regulations for licensing older drivers, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Drivers license rules in some states are stricter than in others. In California, drivers ages 70 and up need to provide proof they can see well enough to drive each time they renew. After age 70, California drivers must renew in person and are prohibited from renewing online or by mail.

Elderly woman's mistake costs the life of her husband

Restricting an older driver from rights and privileges they have enjoyed for decades may seem harsh. However, these restrictions are in place in an attempt to keep people from being killed in accidents. An accident in Martinez last July illustrated how it is possible for a senior citizen to make a life-threatening mistake. According to The Washington Post, an 84-year-old woman accidentally put her foot on the gas instead of the brake while attempting to park her car in the garage. She ran over her husband, who was standing in front of the vehicle, then crashed through the garage's wall and came to a stop in the backyard. The man later died in the hospital.

It is rarely easy to give up freedoms, especially when ceasing to drive can result in a loss of independence. However, nobody wants to cause an accident that kills an innocent person. There are many older drivers who realize when they are no longer safe to drive, and they voluntarily give up their keys. However, there are others who continue driving despite signs that they may no longer be safe behind the wheel. If you were injured in an accident caused by an older driver, you may wish to seek compensation for your medical expenses. An experienced personal injury attorney may be able to help.