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Older drivers at risk on the roads
Friday, August 31st, 2012

A recent car accident involving a very elderly man backing his car into a crowd of people, seriously injuring 4 children, has put a national spotlight on the issue of elderly drivers.

By 2030, nearly
20% of the drivers on the road will be over the age of 65. Driver’s problems
begin when cognitive or physical abilities start to decline; at 65, a driver’s risk of being involved in a motor vehicle accident
starts to go up.

75, the likelihood of fatality increases sharply.

By the
age of 80, drivers are in more than five times as many fatal car crashes as
middle-­aged drivers. 

elderly drivers are more likely to be involved in multi-vehicle accidents,
particularly at intersections. And when a crash
happens, their relative fragility puts them more at risk for serious injuries
or death.

According to Consumer Reports, the biggest
factors in older-driver motor vehicle accidents include:  

  • Poor judgment
    in making left  turns
  • Drifting within
    a lane of traffic
  • Decreasing
    ability to drive defensively

The aging
population of drivers is going to create a lot of new problems on the road in
the next few decades; yet, not much is being done to address this impending
wave of elderly drivers. Currently, only about half of the states have special provisions
for renewing licenses
of older or elderly drivers – although it’s been proven that
vision screening for elderly drivers reduces fatality rates. In Oregon, a driver’s license is renewed every
8 years, and vision screening is required for drivers 50 years and older. In
Washington, licenses are up for renewal every 5 years, with no vision

The Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has additional
recommendations for older drivers
. If you
are concerned about the driving habits of an elderly person in your life, this AARP seminar can help you determine when it’s time to stop driving. Finally, AAA has a cognitive skills test for
older drivers. 


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