There have been two fatal car accidents involving drivers over the age of 75 in the Pittsburgh area recently, one on the Parkway East and another in Hempfield. Although this has raised concern in some about the safety of elderly drivers on the road, experts say that age is not necessarily an indicator of driving ability.
In Pennsylvania, for example, PennDOT officials say that crash statistics offer no evidence for targeting older drivers. They say that 1.1 percent of PA drivers over the age of 65 and over the age of 75 were involved in car accidents in 2007. Drivers in their 30s were twice as likely to be in a crash, people in their early 20s were four times as likely, and the chances were even higher among teenagers.
Due to the fact that older drivers drive less, however, crash statistics analyzed on a crash-per-miles-driven basis offer a different picture. According to this criterion, 75-year-old drivers have accidents as often as 20-year-olds. This, say researchers, does arouse some concern about older drivers, but they also emphasize that the dangers posed should not be exaggerated.
About half of the states have special requirements that apply to elderly drivers. In Iowa, for example, drivers over the age of 70 have to apply for a new license every two years. Illinois and New Hampshire both require 75-year-old drivers to take a road test for license renewal. In Pennsylvania, physicians are supposed to report conditions that might impair driving ability in patients of all ages.