It is generally accepted that older drivers are dangerous. For example, their eyesight and reaction times are on the decline. However, the truth is that there are many safe older drivers. They have years of experience under their belts and follow posted speed limits. Moreover, they are aware of their limitations and tailor their driving habits accordingly. On the other hand, there is the statistic that senior citizens are second only to teenagers in crash deaths. Part of this is due to older drivers’ physical fragilities, but it is true that, yes, some older drivers should not be on the road. So, the answer to the question posed at the top of this article is, “Yes. And no.” Find out more below.
People are living longer
People are living longer now, thanks in part to advancements in medical technology. This also means they are on the roads longer. As AAA points out, many seniors should have stopped driving seven to 10 years ago. Moreover, seniors often take medications and are unaware or not fully aware of the effects that come with mixing driving and medication. If alcohol is also in the picture, the situation gets even trickier. Dementia can also affect how cognizant an older driver is of his or her weaknesses.
Independence is important
For many people, giving up a driver’s license means giving up nearly all of their independence. Cars are what get quite a few folks to shops, to friends’ houses and to relatives’ parties. They provide a type of freedom that few other things can. Moving to a place that has robust public transportation can help a senior maintain similar levels of independence, but a move has complications of its own.
Older people’s bodies are weaker
Some older drivers are still physically and mentally capable of driving, although they may avoid interstates and getting behind the wheel when it is dark. However, if they are involved in a crash even when it is no fault of their own, the consequences stand to be more serious than if they were 25 years old. Broken bones, broken hips, traumatic brain injury, whiplash and other neck injuries may result from relatively minor collisions.
If you are an older driver and wonder about your abilities, you can consult a driving rehabilitation specialist or occupational therapist. A defensive driving class may also help. If you or a loved one have been injured in a crash, a lawyer can help you deal with the various aspects involved.