Older Drivers and Car Accidents: When Is It Risky to Drive?

A new documentary short entitled Old People Driving examines the conflict between older drivers who would like to remain on the road and public safety concerns. The documentary follows two men in their 90s, one of whom remains confident in his ability to drive. The men discuss how driving equates to freedom and can even signal, to them, “the end of life itself.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 15 older adults are killed and 500 are injured in car accidents every day. Risks of fatal accidents increase around age 75, with a more dramatic increase after age 80. The CDC notes, however, that “this is largely due to increased susceptibility to injury and medical complications among older drivers rather than an increased tendency to get into crashes.”

Not everyone over the age of 75 should stop driving. In fact, older drivers are safer drivers in many ways. They are less likely to drive drunk and use their seat belts more often than any other age group. For some, though, age does play a role in whether or not they should drive. Some older drivers simply do not have the mental faculties to drive safely and can also experience physical changes such as a decline in vision.

Of course, convincing a family member – or even yourself – to stop driving can be very challenging. Most people equate driving to freedom, and making the choice to let go of that freedom, even when it is the right choice, takes courage. As one of the men in Old People Driving said, however, “Giving up such relative trivialities as driving is nothing compared to, for instance, giving up a person that you have loved all your life.”

Turning in your license does not have to be “the beginning of the end.” You may have many years of nice walks and rides ahead of you, and it is better to take this step than risk a car accident.

Source: A Place for Mom, “Review of the Documentary Short “Old People Driving,” Jeff Anderson, June 3, 2013
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