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Elderly Motorists: How Can Friends and Family Help to Minimize the Risk of Crashes?

Statistics show that the elderly may present a significant danger behind the wheel, explains a California car accident lawyer. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), for example, indicates that 5,288 seniors 65 and older were killed in auto accidents in 2009, which means they accounted for 16 percent of all traffic fatalities. Another 187,000 seniors were injured, making up 8 percent of all individuals injured in traffic crashes during this same time period. 


California’s laws are relatively comprehensive in their attempts to prevent seniors from keeping a drivers license for too long. States must be cognizant of the rights of seniors when passing limitations and requirements on their driving ability in order to respect the rights of the older population. According to SmartMotorist.com, attempts by many states at imposing tougher licensing requirements for seniors have been thwarted by the AARP and by other powerful senior lobbyists who claim that age is not an accurate predictor of the ability to drive. 


Ultimately, because states can only go so far in preventing seniors from driving, some responsibility needs to fall to the friends and family of elderly individuals to prevent unsafe senior driving.  The NHTSA has a number of suggestions for those who are concerned about a dangerous senior driver:


Taking the time to carefully gather information, including speaking to family and friends as well as paying attention to the senior’s driving skills. The NHTSA also suggests paying attention to other non-driving related factors such as forgetfulness and confusion that could affect a senior’s ability to drive safely. 

Using AAA’s “Roadwise Review” online program to test the senior’s vision, reaction time and driver distraction. Family members or concerned friends can ask an elderly person to take these tests to determine continued driving fitness. 

Using the AARP’s “Test Your Driving IQ” self-assessment quiz, which is part of the AARP’s Driver Safety Program. 

Using the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety quiz. The quiz asks questions about 15 different driving situations and offers suggestions based on provided answers. 

Seeking help from Area Agencies on Aging to find information about alternative transportation choices that an elderly individual can take advantage of instead of driving. A local office for the Agencies on Aging can be found by contacting the Eldercare Locator at 800-677-1116. 

Contacting a driver rehabilitation specialist to have the driving skills of the elderly individual analyzed. A specialist can be found on the website of the American Occupational Therapy Association’s Older Driver Resource Center. 


If the senior is unwilling to consider any of these steps and if there is an ongoing concern about the ability of the senior to drive safely, concerned family, friends or other interested parties can always contact the DMV to express their fears. The California DMV can then evaluate the information and may require the senior to come in for a supplemental driving test to prove continued driving fitness.  


Additional articles on this and other traffic safety subjects are available to the public free of charge through our office’s Preferred Friends and Clients Program.


To request one of these free resources, or to speak with a California car accident lawyer, feel free to call 866-981-5596. 


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