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Elderly Drivers Continue to Increase in Number

Posted on in Car Accidents

We all depend upon the freedom that our driver's license provides. Whatever we need to do, we can get in the car and go. However, as we get older, we change physically. Some of those changes can make driving difficult and more dangerous, potentially putting others in harm's way. With the numbers of elderly drivers continuing to rise, legislatures are struggling to find the appropriate ways to help reduce the amount of serious car accidents caused by elderly drivers.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles estimates that there are currently more than 5.5 million drivers aged 55 or older, and 2.5 million are 70 or older. The numbers nationwide are similar, and by 2025, nearly 20 percent of all drivers in the U.S. will be 65 or older. The National Transportation Safety Board recently held a forum to study the issue of elderly driving, to discuss safety measures in greater detail.

While officials consider the appropriate avenues to improve senior driving safety, many states' Department of Motor Vehicles have started their own safety campaigns. In California, the DMV has many tips for elderly drivers available on their website, including a self-assessment test. The state also has a mature driver improvement course, which discusses issues most relevant for older drivers. Those who complete the course may receive a discount from their insurer.

California also has a restricted license plan in place for elderly drivers who do not satisfy all of the testing requirements. These restrictions may include the times of day and locations where he or she is allowed to drive, as well as additional mirrors or other vehicle enhancements that improve driving ability. Every driver over age 70 is required to renew a driver's license in person. Each will also need to complete a written test on California driving rules, as well as pass a vision test.

Many of the state programs in place encourage elderly drivers to be aware of any physical changes they may be experiencing. This awareness can help seniors better understand how new driving habits compensate for any of these physical limitations. Any medications can also impact a person's judgment and reaction time, and elderly drivers should discuss this with his or her doctor. By aggressively focusing on these issues now, officials hope to have a successful plan in place which will allow older drivers to remain safe drivers.

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