Massive Increase in Older Drivers on the Horizon

By the year 2020, one out of every six people will be over the age of 65. For those who are convinced that older drivers represent an increased risk of car accidents, this could be a frightening prospect. Whether 65 is a reasonable age to start being concerned about a loss of driving skills, there does come a point at which a person should no longer be behind the wheel. That point varies from individual to individual and identifying it is no easy task. It is obviously better to determine beforehand when a person presents an unreasonable risk of injury or death as a driver. Waiting for a car accident to force the decision could be a fatal mistake.

More than half the states have laws in place that put an extra burden on drivers 65 years old and older. These burdens range from increased vision and road testing, to more frequent renewal requirements. This is true despite the fact that drivers between 65 and 69 years old are involved in the same number of fatal accidents as drivers between 30 and 39 years old. There is no increase in fatal car crash rates in drivers under 70 years old. Drivers do not become as likely as a teen driver to suffer a fatal crash until they hit 85 years old.

The increase in older drivers could lead to bad legislation and an unfair curtailing of rights. Individual drivers as well as their loved ones should be mindful that reduced reaction time and eroding driving skills will come at some point. Safety is of paramount importance when it comes to getting behind the wheel. But the studies do not support a blanket rule taking away the drivers’ licenses of people who have turned a certain age. Older drivers should be evaluated on their actual ability to operate a motor vehicle, not on the date on their birth certificates.

By paying more attention to driving ability, everyone can keep the emphasis on safe driving. No one wants to be involved in a car accident.

Source: Fox News, “Diminished motor skills: ‘Silver tsunami’ of elderly drivers prompts tough decisions,” by Rhett Miller, 16 April 2012