Elderly drivers with clean driving records should be given the privilege of driving, no matter what their age. Or not?
This question weighs on the minds of most children when they are faced with the decision of when its time to insist on taking the car keys from an elderly parent or loved one. At what point is your elderly loved one at high risk for a car accident in Bangor or elsewhere in the state?sMany elderly drivers want to make their own decision, according to a recent article in Ithaca Journal. The question becomes, can they be a fair judge with good conscious? Are they making the decision based on fear of losing their independence and not on their current health conditions?
Our car accident attorneys in Maine understand the struggles that our elders go through giving up their independence. Yet we know that as we get older and our health diminishes, remaining accident free becomes obsolete.
Caring.com states that Maine law requires license renewal every 4 years for drivers age 65 and older. Renewal can be mailed in or done in person but starting at age 62 a vision test is required every time drivers renew their license. No other requirements, like proving they are still capable of driving, are established for older drivers in Maine.
Giving up their keys not only affects the freedom of the elderly driver, but it could affect a neighbor or friend who relies on them for a ride to doctor’s appointments or the grocery store. As adults age, driving skills can diminish. Studies show that fatality rates begin to climb when drivers hit the age of 65. The death rate skyrockets after age 75. At age 85 and older, the death rate becomes almost four times higher than that of teens, who are typically considered to be the most dangerous drivers on the road.
It is predicted that by 2030, there will be 9.6 million people ages 85 and older; which is more than a 70% increase from today’s population. With that comes the prediction that by 2030, drivers age 65 and over will be involved in 25% of fatal crashes. By comparison, older drivers account for 11% of fatal crashes today.
Even though the state has nothing in place to test driving skills for elderly drivers, there are organizations that provide some help to your loved one. AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety offers a free evaluation of a drivers risk for crash. Drivers can go online to complete the evaluation. Another alternative is offered by AARP in which drivers can take an online driver-safety course. It is specifically designed for drivers age 50 and over. Members can register for a discounted rate but the course is available to anyone interested for a small fee.
If you are concerned about the driving skills of an elderly person close to you, talk to them about the dangers of driving as they get older. Some elderly drivers may be able to judge when it is time to stop driving but others may need a little nudge. Having the conversation is difficult but a decision you won’t regret if it means keeping your elderly loved one safe and free from a tragic car accident.
If you or your elderly loved one has been in a car accident in Bangor or Portland, contact Peter Thompson & Associates for legal advice about your rights. Call 1-800-804-2004 to set up a confidential appointment.