Older Drivers Can Pose a Hazard on Roadways
New statistics released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveal the potential hazards presented by elderly drivers on the roadway. Today, there are over 33 million licensed drivers ages 65 and older. While driving can offer an excellent means for older Americans to maintain their independence, the risk of being injured or killed in a motor vehicle accident increases with age. Unfortunately, an average of 500 elderly Americans are injured daily in crashes.
In 2008, more than 5,500 adults over the age of 65 were killed in motor vehicle crashes. This equates to 15 older adults killed and 500 injured every single day. The number of licensed older drivers is increasing in recent years, up over 23 percent from 1999, according to the CDC.
The Risk of Motor Vehicle Accidents Increases with Age
Although most elderly drivers are careful safe drivers, fatal accident rates increase starting at the age of 75, with a dramatic increase after the age of 85. This is largely due to the increased susceptibility of older adults to injury and medical complications. However, age related declines in cognitive functioning and vision, along with physical declines that can impact reflexes, may affect the driving ability of older adults.
Senior Drivers in Georgia
The Georgia Department of Driver Services states that it is their desire to see older drivers maintain their license for as long as they continue to drive safely. Drivers who are over the age of 64 are required to come into a local DDS office in person when their license expires. Office personnel will then require all persons over the age of 64 to submit to a vision test. The vision standard is 20/60 and a horizontal vision field of 140 degrees. Those who do not meet these vision minimums will be referred to a vision specialist who may prescribe glasses or other vision correction instruments.
Some elderly drivers will require DDS reexamination. This is due to a driver's physical or mental condition, as well as his or her driving record. A DDS reexamination can be recommended by a physician, family member, peace officer, or medical technician. The examination will involve vision, written, and sometimes even driving tests.
While these measures have no doubt saved the lives of many road users by removing dangerous drivers from the roadways, some safety experts believe states need to go further and require more frequent reexaminations of older drivers.
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