State Legislators Debate Ways to Protect Public from Incompetent Senior Drivers
WASHINGTON, D.C. --- State legislators nationwide are debating how to prepare for the growing numbers of elderly drivers --- a trend highlighted in a recent article in USA Today. A recent study by Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety concluded that fatality rates for drivers start to rise after age 65. The study was based on data from 1999 to 2004. For drivers ages 75 to 84, the rate of about three deaths per 100 million miles driven is equal to the fatality rate of teenage drivers. The death rate for drivers 85 and older skyrockets to nearly four times higher than that for teens. The U.S. Census Bureau forecasts there will be 9.6 million people 85 and older by 2030, up 73 percent from the present. Analysts predict that by 2030, when all baby boomers will be at least 65, that group will be responsible for 25 percent of all fatal crashes. A 1995 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that requiring elderly drivers to appear at DMVs in person to renew their license was one way to lower the rate of fatal accidents by this age group. Normal aging results in medical problems that can affect driving: reflexes, flexibility, visual acuity, memory and the ability to focus.