Every day in the United States, 20,000 more people join the ranks of those 65 and older. According to the AAA, nearly 85 percent of people in that age group held driver’s licenses in 2010. That percentage is not expected to fall. As is the case all too often, misconceptions and stereotypes about older people are more common than informed opinions. Older drivers are, in many ways, safer than drivers from other age groups. Older drivers tend to avoid risky or stupid behaviors, including drinking and driving and texting while driving that plague those in other age groups. Older drivers wear seat belts at a greater rate than other drivers. They are less likely to speed or engage in aggressive driving practices. That does not mean that older Americans are free from concerns about safe driving.
Elderly drivers tend to suffer greater harm in a comparable accident than younger drivers. An 18-year-old is much more likely to get into a wreck, but also more likely to walk away unscathed. Older people are more likely to be on prescription drugs that can affect driving ability. In addition, vision, reaction time and cognitive ability can also be affected by health conditions that disproportionately affect older people.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers a number of tips for ensuring the safety of older drivers. The tips range from ways to make sure a vehicle is appropriate for an older driver to how to make the decision about when driving is no longer safe. Just remember that the guidelines are not one-size-fits-all. No age represents an absolute cutoff at which driving becomes unsafe.
Source: Business Insider, “Senior drivers strive to stay on the road,” by Robert MacPherson, 31 March 2015