Drivers in their late 50s and early 60s are among the safest on the roads, but motorists who reach retirement age are much more apt to get into an accident, a AAA study finds.
Drivers over 85 were nearly four times as likely to die in a crash as middle-aged drivers, according to the study released Wednesday by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The study found that as drivers grew older, they suffered increasingly from decreased perception and motor skills. Frailty also caused serious injury and death in crashes that might not kill younger people.
The reasons why older drivers are dangerous are clear. Once we pass a certain age our mental and physical capacities begin to diminish. Obviously this has a negative impact on driving abilities. So why are there still so many older folks driving? Well, lets think about it.
First of all lets realize that we’re all, for the most part, fairly poor judges of our own abilities. Just look at all the struggling authors giving themselves anonymous rave-reviews over on Amazon. Most of us are going to dodder off into our 70’s and 80’s still thinking we’re the king, or queen, of the road.
What we need is somebody to tell these older drivers when its time to turn in the keys, but who wants that responsibility? Anybody who has an older parent or grandparent knows how difficult that conversation can be. So what happens is a lot of the friends and family of older drivers know the driver is probably unsafe but aren’t willing, or aren’t able, to go through the hassle of getting the keys. If the older persons refuses to cooperate the only recourse is to pursue the matter by getting them declared unfit to drive, which can be a messy and hurtful process.
So what’s the solution? Make the government the bad guy.
My idea is that we require yearly testing beyond a certain age. Perhaps a law could be passed requiring all drivers over 65 to report in for yearly driving tests to ensure that they’re still up-to-snuff. If grandpa can still pass the test he can keep his license.
Such tests would probably cost a few more tax dollars but they would save a lot of headaches, and possibly lives.
by Rob Port of Say Anything