According to the latest AAA Auto Club statistics, there are over 35 million elderly, licensed drivers in the United States. With the onset of age, there is a demonstrative rise in the amount of accidents involving older people, especially those over the age of 65. One of the reasons we are seeing this rise is that elderly drivers often refuse to stop driving when all indications point to multiple reasons why they should put away the car keys for good.
The number one reason is failing eyesight. Glasses are often more of a hindrance than a help, as peripheral, or side vision is diminished. Response time is also greatly reduced when drivers reach their mid-60's.
Older drivers tend to drive under the speed limit, and unintentionally cause accidents by forcing other drivers to take chances by passing them. (Not to mention the unfriendly middle finger salute as they pass!) Slow drivers that block traffic are just as likely to create dangerous situations as speeders are. Or, a senior driver may be in the beginning stages of Alzheimer's disease and not even know it. If symptoms arise while driving, he or she may panic and cause a crash.
Most elderly drivers do face facts eventually and gradually decrease their time on the road and reach out to family and friends to start driving them. But many others refuse to admit there is a problem, and usually they are the ones involved in crashes.
So what can be done? The obvious answer is, reach out to them. Short of an intervention, a friendly sit down with family members and possibly a close friend should be a prerogative. If the driver can listen to reason and limit their driving (if not quit altogether) then this is a good first step. What you don't want to have to do is file an unsafe driver report with your state's Department of Motor Vehicles. Procedures vary from state to state, but in any case this should be your last resort. His or her physician can also be a great resource. You can call the doctor and mention that you believe your elderly loved one should stop driving, then schedule an appointment. If the doctor agrees with your assessment, he can often convince them that, as far as driving is concerned it would be a good idea to quit.
In conclusion, to document just one of hundreds of traffic incidents that happen all over the country every day involving the elderly, the following report is a direct transcript from a television station's coverage of a crash involving a senior driver, a Mr. Harold Stenson from Ypsilanti, Michigan. It was broadcast on WXYZ-TV on September 13th, 2016:
"Good evening! I'm Gordon Smith."
"And I'm Allison Williams. We take you live to breaking news from Ypsilanti. Samantha?"
"Good evening Gordon and Allison. As you mentioned, I am in Ypsilanti where this unfortunate incident happened. Here's what we have so far: Mr. Stenson, who we learned is 75 years old, was driving when he collided into a stopped car in front of him. The force of the crash ejected him out of the vehicle. Somewhat in shock, I am told, he tried to pull himself up and back into his vehicle when another car ran over his legs. Mr. Stenson still managed to get back into his car, but then he accidentally put it into reverse and banged into at least two or three more cars, because traffic was quite heavy at the time. Already bloodied and bruised, this second crash once again sent him reeling from the car onto the ground where another driver couldn't stop and ran over him again, dragging him a few feet under this other driver's wheels. Cars in the immediate area came to a stop; that's when a good Samaritan called 911. An ambulance showed up within minutes and Mr. Stenson was immediately transported to U. of M. Hospital in Ann Arbor where he is being treated for multiple injuries. A final note before I send it back to you in the studio: Out of respect for Mr. Stenson and his family, the carnival owner thought it was a good idea to close down the bumper cars for the rest of the evening. Now, back to you!"