How Old Is Too Old To Drive?
From the drama of Netflix’s The Crown to Prince Harry’s lavish wedding to Queen Elizabeth’s adorable horde of corgis, England’s royal family always give us plenty to talk about. But after Prince Phillip, the queen’s 97-year-old husband, was involved in a car accident last week, the royal family raises a not-so-fun question for anyone who has an elderly relative. As drivers age, is it still safe for them to be out on the roads?
Concerns for Older Drivers
In the United States, there are over 42 million people over the age of 65 who have a drivers’ license, according to 2016 statistics from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For many of these aging Americans, driving provides them with a sense of mobility, independence, and purpose. However, there are many aspects of aging that can affect a person’s ability to safely drive, including:
- Vision difficulty
- Hearing difficulty
- Slowed reflex
- Reduced coordination
- Joint pain
- Side effects from medications
- Mental changes, such as dementia
Though some of these are natural consequences of aging, they can have big consequences on the roads. For instance, a driver with hearing problems could fail to safely move out of the way of an oncoming ambulance, or neck pain could prevent a driver from being able to fully look in both directions. Additionally, many older adults take various medications, which can impact things like alertness and coordination.
Accident Risks for Older Drivers
Thanks to health and aging issues, older drivers can be bothersome on the roads at best—and downright dangerous at worst. According to the CDC, 7,400 older Americans died in traffic accidents in 2016. Another 290,000 were treated for serious injuries. Drivers over the age of 85 were the most often involved in fatal accidents, and older men had a higher accident rate than older women.
So how old is too old to drive? There is really no set age for when a driver should give up their keys, but there are some warning signs to look for, such as:
- Loss of direction
- Running stop signs or red lights
- Having minor accidents, like hitting another car in a parking lot
- Driving too slowly
- Slowed response time
If an older driver is starting to display this kind of behavior, it might be time to reassess if they are still safely able to drive.
Finding A Solution
If you have an elderly relative or loved one who is exhibiting dangerous or impaired driving behavior, it’s important to talk to them about their options. Ask if they would be willing to give up driving and come up with alternatives, like public buses, Uber, or a transportation through a local religious center or other organization. If necessary, consider getting the second opinion of a physician, eye doctor, or even a family attorney.
Since many older people want to retain their dignity and independence or might be unwilling to admit that they are struggling, this can be a difficult conversation for everyone. Be patient and understanding, and work to find a solution that will make everyone happy and keep the roads safe.
The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.