Operating a motor vehicle requires all senses to be focused on the road. A driver must have his/her eyes focused and alerted. He/she must have high reaction time. And he/she must be able to respond quickly. If vision, hearing and reaction is impaired, driving becomes very dangerous. As we age, we experience these signs of impaired capabilities. Senior drivers may pose a threat to their safety and to others. That is why there are regulations in place for driving senior citizens.
Statistics involving senior drivers
Statistical research often identifies older senior citizens to be 65 years or older. Statistics also showed that 70 years and older drivers have the highest car accident rates. In 2017, about 6784 senior drivers died in car crashes compared to 20 older adult drivers. This makes up 18% of total fatalities.
The AAA conducted research on senior drivers safety. They found that 80% of seniors aged 70 and older suffer from arthritis and crippling inflammation of the joints. These conditions have a consequence on the ability to turn, flex and twist. Senior drivers often suffer from weak muscles, reduced flexibility and limited motion range. This can significantly impact their ability to drive. They face difficulties in gripping the steering wheel, pressing the gas and brake pedal, etc. Furthermore, they found that fatal car accidents increase for senior drivers aged 75 and continue to increase afterwards. It is, therefore, no surprise that fatality rates in senior drivers are 17 times higher.
Driving Regulations for older citizens
Some states restrict or suspend drivers licenses of senior drivers. However, the Department of Motor Vehicles in California does not take away driver’s license when a citizen reaches a certain age. Instead, the department determines that based on the mental and physical condition. Furthermore, they look at the ability to follow all traffic laws and rules. Nevertheless, senior drivers who are 70 years or older must renew their driver’s license in person.
Ensuring the safety of senior drivers
The ability to drive oneself wherever provides independence. That is why losing the ability to drive will make a senior driver dependent on others. This will have psychological consequences. However, it is important to learn how to make senior drivers safe on the road. There are a few ways you can determine whether a senior driver is capable of driving safely or not. First, you must determine whether they can remember familiar routes or whether they get lost. Second, check whether they have been advised or asked to reduce or stop driving due to health issues. Third, pay attention to whether they get overwhelmed by road signs and other markings while driving. If so, then they are probably safest if they limit their driving. Fourth, check whether their medication affects their ability to drive.