Research Suggests Elderly Drivers Support Measures to Prevent Advanced Age-Related Crashes
Elderly drivers in most states, which includes Georgia, are not required by law to submit to age-based retesting to determine that they still possess the physical and mental ability to drive safely. However, some researchers have explored accident prevention strategies to protect both elderly drivers and others with whom they share the road. These suggestions range from DMV imposed requirements for re-testing or providing a doctor certification of competence to people voluntarily creating advance directives authorizing a trusted person to determine when their driver's license should be revoked.
Some elderly drivers are among the safest drivers on the road because they have the advantage of decades of experience behind the wheel, and they are not inclined to engage in high risk driving behavior like speeding or texting, but advanced age can diminish the skills necessary for safe driving. Previous studies have shown that many elderly drivers compensate for declines in vision, reaction time, coordination and mental acuity by reducing speed and allowing increased stopping distance. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Colorado School of Medicine that was published in the American Society of Geriatrics indicates that many elderly drivers support measures to reduce car accidents involving elderly drivers.
The study found that more than 7 in ten seniors involved in the study endorsed the requirement of mandatory retesting of drivers based on advanced age. The research also revealed that nearly as many elderly drivers (68 percent) agree that family should be able to determine when a senior's driver's license should be revoked because of age-based declines in mental and physical driving ability. More than half of all those involved in the study also supported allowing doctors to make this determination. By contrast, participants in the study were more skeptical about allowing law enforcement authorities or Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) personnel to make these judgments. Only 26 percent of those in the study supported allowing police to revoke an elderly individual's driver's license, and only 28 percent supported granting such power to DMV.
While the study suggest that seniors are skeptical about allowing mandatory enforcement by government authorities, most drivers conceded that they would adhere to determinations that it was no longer safe to drive made by their doctor or family. Almost 9 in 10 respondents indicated they might be inclined to stop driving based on the recommendation of a doctor whereas 3 in 4 respondents said they would respect the opinion of family members regarding when it was time to quit driving.
The results of the study also support the view that the potential hazards involving elderly drivers extends beyond age-based declines in mental and physical driving ability. 87 percent of those in the study admitted they had at least one diagnosed medical condition that would increase the risk of being involved in an auto accident while twelve percent of the participants had actually been involved in a collision during the year proceeding the study. The elderly drivers also reported taking a median number of seven medications per test subject.
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Because there is no systematic approach in Georgia for keeping elderly loved ones that can no longer operate a motor vehicle safely protected from their own diminished driving capacity, we encourage loved one's to be diligent in monitoring aging loved ones. If you or someone you love has been involved in an Atlanta auto collision, our Atlanta car accident lawyers at Montlick and Associates have been representing injury victims for over thirty years throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.