Reasons to Give Up Driving in the Senior Years

It is so difficult to make the decision to stop driving. It can become a big struggle between family members and aging seniors, because no one wants to give up independence. The safety of our aging loved ones, and also of others on the road, must take priority over hurt feelings and hurt pride. The following article addresses very well the risks that senior drivers can pose, and some startling statistics.

Reasons to Give Up Driving in the Senior Years

( As a combination of aging baby boomers and medical advances that make living longer a reality for many, there will come a time when those who live long lives will have to make some tough decisions about driving—or rather, not driving. Signs that it is time to hang up the keys may include frequent close calls or collisions, increased number of traffic violations, increasing difficulty in observing pedestrians or other vehicles, decline in physical abilities including vision and hearing, or becoming quickly tired while driving. Medications can also contribute to driving problems by causing drowsiness or reducing the ability to remain focused.

What Are the Risks? Senior Driving Facts and Statistics

  • Research shows that at around age 65, drivers face an increased risk of being involved in vehicle accidents, especially at intersections.
  • The crash rate per mile driven rises steadily for drivers 65 and older, and those drivers are involved in more crashes per mile driven than any other age group except teenagers.
  • After the age of 75, the risk of a driver dying in a car crash increases, because older people are more vulnerable to the kinds of injuries that typically result from these accidents.
  • 90 % of people over the age of 65 use one medication regularly; 40% use five or more medications. A person who causes injury or death to another person while driving under the influence of a prescription medication is usually subject to the same legal penalties as one driving under the influence of alcohol. Florida DUI penalties for a first offense: Jail time up to 6 months, fine between $500-$1000 and/or mandatory one year probation ranging from 50 hours community service and substance abuse counseling to DUI school, etc.
  • Other drivers and pedestrians are put at risk from elderly drivers on the road. But overall, elderly drivers are more a danger to themselves and their passengers. In 2009, 74 percent of people killed in crashes involving a driver 70 or older were either the older driver themselves (61 percent), or their older passengers (13 percent).
  • A study of older drivers in Hawaii found that the fatality rate for drivers 85 and over is nine times as high as the rate for drivers 25 through 69 years old.
  • A 1997 NHTSA study, older people made up 9 percent of the population but accounted for 14 percent of all traffic fatalities and 17 percent of all pedestrian fatalities.
  • Federal crash statistics show that drivers over 85 are involved in three fatal accidents a day.

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