According to national statistics, one in six drivers in the United States is over the age of 65. That comes out to more than 44 million licensed drivers. As the Baby Boomer generation continues to age, so too will the number of senior drivers. Tragically, the number of vehicle accidents involving senior drivers also is increasing. Each year, there are almost 8,000 adults 65 years or older killed in car accidents. Another 260,000 sustain injuries serious enough they require medical treatment. When a driver reaches 70 years of age, their risk of being in a fatal crash increases, with the greatest spike occurring in those drivers 85 years and older.
There are a number of factors that contribute to these sad statistics. As we age, our vision and cognitive abilities often decline, and this decline can affect our driving. Older drivers may also have issues with their hearing that can be dangerous when they are behind the wheel. Slower reflexes can also be a problem.
Physical health can also hamper a senior’s ability to drive safely. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveal that a driver 65 or older is twice as likely as a younger driver to have a medical issue that can interfere with their ability to drive. Common medical conditions that older adults suffer from – arthritis, dementia, diabetes, heart disease, and Parkinson’s disease – not only may interfere with their ability to drive, but they may also be taking medication that can cause side effects that impact their driving. Many of these medications can cause drowsiness, blurred vision, tremors, confusion, and more.
Signs It May Be Time to Stop Driving
Having the ability to drive their own vehicle allows a senior citizen the freedom to connected to family and friends. It allows them their independence and mobility. But when their age begins to affect that ability, it is not only dangerous for them, but also for any other motorists and pedestrians. There are signs that families should be aware of that are strong indicators that it may be time to talk to their elderly loved one about giving up their vehicle.
Rhode Island Laws for Senior Drivers
In Rhode Island, every driver must renew their license every five years, but for drivers who are 72 years of age, their license will expire at age 75. At 75, drivers are required to renew their licenses in person every two years. At each renewal, the senior will be required to pass a vision test. In some cases, they may be required to pass a written and/or road test.
If family members are concerned that a senior driver should no longer be operating a vehicle, they can contact the senior’s doctor, the senior citizen police advocate in the municipality the senior lives in, or the Department of Motor Vehicles. While it is never easy to have to take these steps, doing so could end up saving the life of your elderly loved one.
If You Are Injured in a Crash
Each year, about 14 million people under the age of 65 are injured in crashes caused by senior drivers. Victims of car accidents caused by other drivers may be entitled to financial compensation for the losses their injuries have caused. This can include:
If you have been injured in a crash, a Rhode Island car accident attorney can evaluate your case and determine what legal options you may have. For more information and to schedule a free and confidential consultation, call Kirshenbaum Law Associates at (401) 467-5300or contact us online today.
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