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Published on Apr 24, 2012 by Edgar Snyder

Older Drivers Dealing with Diminished Driving Skills

elderly drivers

While many of the 10,000 Americans turning 65 each day can and will continue to drive safely for years to come, some are facing new difficulties on the road. Weakening eyesight and slowing reflexes are just some of the factors that contribute to a higher risk of fatal accidents for older drivers. By 2020, it is estimated that one in six Americans will be over the age of 65, and this means it is more important than ever to find a balance between respect for the older community and keeping roads safe.

Despite the persisting notion that elderly drivers are bad drivers, research has found that this isn't the case. In fact, drivers age 65 to 69 have, on average, the same fatal crash involvement as drivers in their 30s. It isn't until age 85 that older drivers overtake teens as the most likely to be involved in a fatal car accident. In many cases, older drivers begin to restrict their own driving as they feel less comfortable behind the wheel, often declining to drive at night or on highways.

Many states require older drivers to renew their driver's license in person, though 14 states, including Pennsylvania, allow for online or mail-in renewal. Some states have additional requirements, such as frequent renewals or road and vision tests, for older drivers. Since there is no definitive age that results in decreased abilities, it's hard for officials to create regulations that don't restrict all drivers.

Pennsylvania has a limited license policy in place for those with 20/70 to 20/100 vision that only allows driving during daylight and not on freeways. Under this policy, doctors are required to report patients who are unfit to drive, and 1,900 drivers 45 and older are chosen at random for vision and physical exams every year. They may be required to retake the driver's test if there are any issues.

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“Diminished motor skills: 'Silver tsunami' of elderly drivers prompts tough decisions.” Fox News. April 16, 2012.
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