Helping senior drivers to stay safe and on the road longer PhysOrg - July 5, 2010
A tool developed by researchers at The University of Western Ontario is designed to help seniors make better choices in automobiles and safety features, and perhaps allow them to drive safer and longer.
How Old Is Too Old Behind The Wheel? AP - July 17, 2003
"I don't think it's a matter of chronological age, I think it's matter of maturity and physical condition and mental acuity," said Harold Garfinkle, 81.
Hannah Balton, 83, just sold her car last week. "My children were worried about me so it was better to just get rid of (my car). It took me a while because you give up your independence," Balton said.
Maxine Anderson, 89, said she intends to drive at least until her license comes up for renewal in two years. "I'll see how I feel then -- I'll be two years older," Anderson said.
Each year in Massachusetts, about 7,500 seniors, those over 68 years of age, either let their licenses lapse or lose their right to drive after failing an eye or road test. A road test is only given when police, doctors or concerned family members request it. Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Boston has a program that counsels and test seniors' driving abilities.
"Of the clients who come in that are over 65 years if age, I would say probably 60 percent to 70 percent of them no longer can drive," said Lissa Kapust of Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital's Drivewise program. Kapust said most studies show that seniors are no more dangerous than drivers under 25, a fact that is confirmed by the Registry of Motor Vehicles. An RMV representative said most seniors adequately regulate their own ability to drive. "People aged 60 to 70 actually show to be our safest drivers. At about the age of 75, something happens and that number spikes up where, within that age group, they have had at least one accident in the last year," said the RMV's Steve Evans. Evans said anyone can file a request to have a driver tested when it comes time for license renewal, as long as it is a legitimate, written request.
Twenty-one states have specific laws for elderly drivers. Massachusetts is not among them, but in New Hampshire, drivers 75 years of age and older must take a road test to renew their licenses. In Rhode Island, drivers 70 years of age and older must renew their licenses every two years.
How many stories about seniors causing major accidents have you heard?
In every age group we find bad drivers, from wild teenagers, substance abusers, to those with emotional problems, such as rage disorder who should not be on the road. I also have experienced bad driving with foreigners and certain ethnic groups as well.
In the days I used to visit family in Florida, seniors often stepped on the gas pedal instead of the brake, or signaled for a left turn and then moved right, etc. causing great damage to people and things. This happens all the time - errors in judgement. I have long took the view that people over a certain age, with limited vision and co-ordination, should not be allowed to drive. I stand firmly that after a certain age people should take a visual and road test every year, showing medical records that might indicate senility, Alzheimers, etc. I know it would be a blow to the ego if they were found unqualified to drive anymore. But this would result in safer driving measures.
In April 2003, I watched an 85 year old man drive his car into the side of someone's house, near my daughter's home in NJ. He was lucky there no one got injured or killed when he lost control of his vehicle hitting the gas medal instead of the brake.
Driving is part of the human experience for most people in western civilizations. Know your limitations or you will become a liability.
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