Seniors often have a more difficult time driving safely because of the natural decline in abilities that occur as we age. As 10,000 baby boomers reach retirement age every day, more and more of them are discovering that their abilities to operate a vehicle are not what they once were. For the generation that lived with cars, loves cars, and grew up associating cars with freedom, the transition into a time when they might not be able to drive anymore can be difficult.
More Seniors Being Hurt Behind the Wheel
Because the population is getting older, the number of people injured or killed every year as a result of accidents involving senior citizens continues to climb. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that in 2012 there were 5,560 seniors killed in automobile accidents, as well as another 214,000 who suffered injuries that required medical assistance. Both the number of deaths and the number of injuries seniors suffered as a result of car crashes in 2012 represented a significant increase from 2011. Deaths climbed by 3% in 2012, while injuries climbed by 16%.
Part of the reason for such an increase is due to the conditions of aging. Because senior bodies are less able to heal, seniors who suffer an injury in an automobile accident can suffer significant complications as a result. When this happens, the senior is more likely to sustain a serious injury, or die because of complications.
States Taking Notice
A number of states have adopted stricter laws when it comes to senior citizens and driving. For example, Virginia requires that any driver age 80 or above must renew their driver’s license in person instead of through the mail. The District of Columbia, on the other hand, requires that drivers age 70 or older must make their renewals in person, but must also submit a medical fitness certification from a physician.
The state of California currently does not impose any such restrictions against drivers, but seniors can lose their driving privileges in some situations. For example, if you are a senior citizen that has a medical condition that might impact your ability to drive, the Department of Motor Vehicles can require you to submit a medical history, submit to driving, vision, and written tests, as well as attend an in-person hearing to determine if you are able to operate a vehicle safely.
However, even if you are not suffering from a medical condition, it’s a good idea to receive a physical examination every year to determine if you have suffered any decline in abilities. The department of motor vehicles also offers a self-assessment that can help you determine if you are a safe driver.