Elderly Driving

Topics: Old age, Driver's license, Gerontology Pages: 7 (2635 words) Published: March 30, 2007
Dangers of Elderly Citizens Driving
Suddenly a sharp pain emerges in the ribs of a young student; but it is not only him that has been injured, but the majority of his class, a broken rib being the most minute injury. Teachers and other pedestrians concerned while a couple gets the license plate of the car that just plowed through a crowd of children. But on the other end; there is the driver of the car, who did not see that the light was ever red, who was on auto-pilot and still has not recognized what had happened. The driver is almost a mile away when the driver comes to the realization "I just ran through a crowd of people." Yet the memory is so vague that the driver believes that it is only a day dream; the thought is dismissed, and they continue to drive. While reasons such as health concerns or age related impairment indicate the need for greater restrictions for elderly drivers; lawmakers must also demonstrate respect for those who are healthy and unimpaired.

Health concerns play a major role in an elderly persons ability do drive. One after another, day after day you can guarantee that there will be an accident some where caused by something. Though the elderly are not the only ones at fault for this, they have a higher risk at being involved in a fatal car crash than teenagers (Loyola). Some of the largest threats of having elderly drivers on the roads are vision, hearing, physical disabilities, dizziness, confusion. When discussing physical disabilities it may include reaction time to events happening around them, traffic light signals changing from one color to another. Which is bad enough on its own, but as if that was not enough another even more dangerous worry is the loss of sensation in extremities (Loyola). When such loss of sensation occurs it is difficult for an elderly person to be sure of how much pressure is being applied to a gas or brake pedal. Alzheimer's disease plays another large role by the driver not being able to recognize what has happened around them; such as going through a red light with out realizing that they had done it. They also may become easily lost. Though it is said that "the accident rate of a driver with a cognitive impairment is equal to that of a driver who has been drinking" (Loyola).

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, elderly citizens and teenagers are the two highest ranking groups for accidents and deaths due to having a common ground (Gazette). All in all out of the various age groups, the two most dangerous are elderly drivers and teenage drivers. The reason for the two of them to be the most dangerous is the same, the lack of attention that they give to their surroundings. This is indeed what the two separate age groups have in common. The difference that sets the two groups apart is that the young mind of a teenager is more capable of handling a complex traffic situation. Also the reason the percentage of elderly drivers involved in fatal accidents is that such that at an older age you are less likely to recover from serious injury therefore wrecks commonly cause death for elderly citizens. An example, a 92 yr old man was going 45mph when he struck a 52 yr old man who then went through the driver's windshield; the driver continued for 3 miles without noticing a body in his windshield. This man was suffering from dementia and the 52yr old man died on impact from loss of blood and the speed of the impact (Gazette). Other similar incidents such as an elder that was found 30 miles away from home when they became lost, or possibly the elder woman that ran through a group of people on a sidewalk because she had mistaken the gas pedal for the brake pedal (680). All these incidents could have been prevented by a road test or by having a regular physical check up that is submitted from a Doctors office to a local DMV when there is a person that needs attention (Loyola).

The above chart shows the increase in fatal crash involvement...
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