Beyond DUI: Driving Risks Over the Age of 65
Research statistics show that older adults involved in crash incidents have the lowest incidence of alcohol content, but are still big risks when it comes to driving. Alcohol, although it plays a role in road driving, is not a major concern of mature drivers. When it comes to age, driving does not get any better even if older adults have more experience behind the wheel in comparison to any other age group. Physical and cognitive functioning are important factors to consider when seniors are driving.
Incidence of Accidents Among Seniors
In 2015, there are 40 million senior drivers 65 years and above according to the CDC. It is estimated by AAA that by 2020, there will be a senior adult for every 5 drivers. Although there were 5,700 older adults killed and 236,000 treated in emergency rooms (CDC, 2014), there are several causes of these accidents. DUI which is one of the causes is on the lower end of the spectrum with 6% of older adults over 75 years testing positive for blood alcohol content compared to 20% for the rest of age groups. There are other major reasons why the elderly is involved in accidents and collisions.
Unfortunately, as you get older, the physical condition is not at its optimum. Aging does not improve endurance or strength. Physical abilities restrict older adults when it comes to driving. Poor eyesight, neck pain, reduced arm strength, leg pain or other medical conditions can make driving difficult for seniors over 65 in their ability to control a vehicle. However, it is these physical abilities that are crucial when on the road. It is vital to react on time when a situation occurs on the road whether there is a human or non-human obstruction or avoiding collisions with another vehicle.
Because older adults are less likely to drink and drive, impairment while driving under the influence is not the major fear. It is their perception of a situation that matters. The decline in cognitive functioning is a primary deterrent for older drivers. They are not able to judge a situation quickly or accurately which can cause accidents or injuries to themselves and others. Reflexes are slower or poorer making driving very risky. Reaction time to a situation is also not as fast as when they were younger.
The bottom line is, not everyone above the age of 65 is fit to drive, even if it means mobility and independence for many. What matters is your safety and that of others. When it is time to hang up the keys, it is important to recognize that and think of alternatives to move rather than risk your life and other motorists.
The above is a guest post by Sally Writes, a contributor to our site. Please contact our Orange County DUI Lawyer for any questions.