Is Regulation Needed for Elder Drivers?

Elder drivers are making up more of the driving population. Although, on average, older drivers are involved in less accidents than younger drivers, the question of when and how to stop a senior from driving is very tricky. Therefore, the decision of when to stop a senior from driving is left to the family to make the painful decision, which could cause family rifts and logistical problems regarding how the senior is going to get around in the absence of a car and a driver’s license.

Physical Considerations for Seniors
As people age, many of their abilities begin to deteriorate. These changes are gradual, and seniors may not recognize them as tangible changes until it is too late. For example, ailments such as macular degeneration and other issues can affect people as they age and produce low or reduced vision. Additionally, over 50 percent of seniors suffer from arthritis or other joint complications. Muscle tone decreases as we age and reflexes become slower, which affects reaction time in a car accident.

Use of Medication
Over 75 percent of drivers over the age of 65 are using at least one medication, but many of them have not considered how that medication may impact their driving skills. Adverse effects from certain medications can impair driving habits, making an accident inevitable due to drowsy or drugged driving. Statistics also show that car accidents involving older drivers increase dramatically at the age of 75. This may be due to medical complications associated with the driver’s age and when the driver is injured in the accident. Older individuals may take longer to heal, compared to younger drivers injured in car accidents.

Regulations Needed
Because there are currently no laws or regulations in place for elder drivers, legislators may start to consider re-testing drivers after they reach a certain age. Doing so will identify who is unfit to drive due to their age and cognitive decline and will help make the roadways safer for drivers.

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Richard D. DiTomaso

Licensed since 1995

Member at firm DiTomaso Law

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