The Dangers Elderly Drivers May Present
At some point, nearly everyone who lives to a ripe old age will need to decide whether or not they should give up the car keys. The matter involves more than just losing one’s independence – some elderly drivers may put their own lives and the lives of others at risk by continuing to drive. Statistics from Consumer Reports show that after age 80, drivers are six times more likely to be involved in fatal car accidents than drivers who are younger.
In many ways, age equals superior experience. While this is certainly true of those who have had driver’s licenses for a few decades, driving ability can decline with many age related conditions. What are the ways that an older driver might pose a danger on the roads? According to NIH Senior Health, elderly people may suffer from numerous physical or cognitive conditions that can affect driving safety. These may include the following:
• Reduced vision or hearing, which may impair a driver’s ability to see hazards or to hear horns or emergency vehicles
• The early symptoms of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease leads to confusion and decreased reaction time
• Injuries, chronic illnesses or other medical conditions that may affect muscle function and reflexes
• Medication that causes drowsiness, dizziness or confusion
• The reduced ability to judge an oncoming vehicle’s speed or distance
• An impaired ability to quickly react to dangers or the agility to safely operate a vehicle in emergency conditions
If you fear that you or a loved one has any condition, age related or not, that puts people at risk of injury or death by continued driving, seek a consultation with a competent medical professional before putting a dangerous driver behind the wheel of a car.
Some states have driver’s license renewal conditions that address residents as they age. The regulations are rather lenient in Washington State; our state does require all drivers age 70 and older to renew their driver’s license in person rather than by mail.
You may be eligible for compensation if you are injured by an older driver, or by any person who is negligent or reckless. An experienced Everett personal injury attorney should be able to explain the legal process to you and determine if you may have a case.