The media has spent a considerable amount of time in recent years discussing the ways in which the aging baby boomer population will likely affect the economy, the American healthcare system and the workforce. However, it has spent too little time examining the ways in which an aging driving population will affect road safety broadly nationwide.
Drivers tend to be particularly at risk for being involved in car accidents at the very beginning of their driving careers and at the very end of them. When elderly drivers remain behind the wheel later and later into their lifetimes, they begin to risk preventable accidents as a general rule. Of course, not all drivers age in the same ways and not every elderly driver must make the decision to hang up his or her keys. However, evidence suggests that drivers are continuing to drive well into their golden years and that this trend could be a significant safety risk for all motorists.
A recent study authored by experts from the University of Michigan confirms that senior drivers are remaining behind the wheel longer than they ever have before. Nearly four out of every five elderly drivers aged 70 and older currently possess valid driver’s licenses. Thirty years ago, just over half of this population remained behind the wheel.
When people age, their senses can become less acute and their reaction time can slow. If the aging driving population wishes to remain behind the wheel in record numbers, it is imperative that federal and state regulators accurately assess whether individual drivers remain fit to drive safely. Failure to respond to this trend could lead to a number of preventable accidents.
Source: WYMT, “Study shows increase in elderly drivers,” Morgan Lentes, Aug. 26, 2013