When should an aging driver give up the keys to the car? Answering that question is difficult because, to many Americans, driving offers autonomy and independence.
However, a recent report by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that older drivers involved in car accidents - or their elderly passengers - are more likely to be killed than their younger counterparts.
The results correlate with known factors, such as slower response times as we age. Dr. Ezra Hauer, professor emeritus at the University of Toronto's Department of Civil Engineering, stated that "More than four-fifths of those killed when the driver is 85 years or older are the drivers themselves; among drivers between the ages of 16 and 59 years, two-thirds of those killed are other people." Older drivers pose the greatest threat to themselves according to the research.
Age 70 is a Turning Point for Driver Safety
According to the IIHS, age 70 is a turning point for driver safety, even though 78 percent of drivers are still behind the wheel at that age. In fact, 22 million 70-plus drivers are on the nation's roads.
After age 70, however, car accident rates begin to increase significantly. Drivers over 80 fare even worse, with the highest rate of fatal collisions per mile traveled of any age group. The accident rate for these oldest drivers approaches the level of early teen drivers.
Many States Restrict Elderly Driving
Statistics show that many older drivers change their driving habits on their own. Many stop driving at night, avoid freeways and stay off the roads in bad weather. According to the report, drivers over the age of 70 drive fewer than half the annual miles driven by middle-aged drivers.
To improve public safety, more than 25 states identify elderly drivers at risk during license renewals. A graduated driver's license for older drivers is one option. An objective health assessment from a family doctor or health care professionals may also help older drivers adjust to changes.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a traffic accident, contact an experienced Oklahoma personal injury attorney to discuss your case and determine your options.