Patch's Poll: Should Elderly Drivers Be Subjected to Greater Restrictions?

AAA says a crash involving a 100-year-old man is a wake-up call for families to have a conversation with the aging drivers in their life.

The crash involving a 100-year-old driver who injured school children in Los Angeles days ago drew national attention to the issue of aging drivers on the road.

While the nationally-publicized incident raises public concerns about senior drivers, AAA says it is a myth that seniors are among the nation’s most dangerous. Instead, AAA's Jake Nelson said just the opposite is true. 

“Recent data tells us that drivers in their 70s get into about the same number of crashes per mile driven as do drivers in their 30s,” said Nelson, who is AAA’s director of Traffic Safety Advocacy and Research.  "On average, drivers in their mid- to late-80s still have lower crash rates per mile driven than drivers in their early 20s, and roughly half the crash rates of teenagers — the nation’s riskiest drivers."

But AAA notes that with 10,000 Americans a day turning 65, an increasing number of families are faced with the challenge of balancing safety and mobility for older loved ones.

In Los Angeles, a 100-year-old man named Preston Carter injured 14 people, including 11 school children, after driving onto the sidewalk after backing out of a nearby parking lot, according to the Associated Press.

Carter's daughter, Rose Jenkins, told NBC Los Angeles, "I think this is a wake up call and I don't think he'll be driving any more."

AAA agreed.

“The driver’s daughter Ms. Jenkins was right that this crash was a ‘wake up call.’  We know from research that families don’t know where to turn for help or how to get the conversation started,” said Nelson. “AAA urges families to prepare now, before they get their own wake up call.”

Nelson said a national AAA survey shows 80 percent of senior drivers “self-police” their driving by voluntarily avoiding one or more higher-risk driving situations like driving at night or during rush-hour times of day. AAA has also found that age, on its own, is not what leads to a loss of driving skills. Instead, medical conditions that come with aging — which can affect drivers as early as in their 40s — are what commonly reduce driving ability.

What do you think? Should Connecticut have any additional requirements or testing for older drivers? Take our poll and share your thoughts on the issue in the comments section of this article.

MrsSmithWatchingWashington September 04, 2012 at 08:43 PM
My father was still driving in his mid 80s, driving 20mph on I-95, according to a friend. I had his doctor send him to a neurologist, who took his keys away. He has never forgiven me, but I would have felt horrible had someone been killed. I took him for retesting (very expensive) at a special testing place and he failed abysmally. (Confusing the gas and the brake pedal is never a good sign... ) My mother was also tested by a neurologist and I was stunned when he said she could keep on driving. Her ALZ was so bad that she couldn't remember something for ten seconds. They are both now in an ALZ assisted living facility. My advice to anyone with parents over 70 is to start talking to them NOW about how, eventually, they won't be able to drive. Set the scene NOW for them.
Fran M. September 05, 2012 at 01:46 AM
In my opinion, the poll above has several correct answers. A 100-yr old should not be driving. Yes, elderly drivers should be tested more carefully/frequently for both eyesight, cognitive, and reflexes...I suggest every 2-3 years after age 70. Certainly there are still safe drivers of that age-- but *screen* them. Don't just say the percentages are the same for 70-yr-olds and 30-yr-olds. On the other hand, I feel strongly that 16-yr olds are also a hazard. There too, certainly some are mature and responsible enough...plenty more are not. I know parents and kids alike wouldn't approve, but I wish the legal age were 18.
SolarPete September 05, 2012 at 11:55 AM
someday u all will be in our 70s and 80s and u will be the ones crying after u lose ur license I drive slow not 20mph on the pike but 65mph I'm slowing down and I'm 58 don't have kids to care for me when I get older Sometimes common sense has to take over when we get old The day will come I will have to sell y home and move into a assist home or get a caregiver to assist me. when that time comes I hope I will do ok


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