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Older Drivers Among Safest on Road, Still Face DMV Concerns

An article published in the OC Register last month touches on a time-honored stereotype: older people are bad drivers. According to the article and several studies, however, these stereotypes aren't necessarily true - drivers age 65 and older are among the safest drivers on the road. Researchers at the Insurance Institute for Traffic Safety cited two of the main reasons why:

  • More likely to wear seat belts
  • Less prone to distractions while driving, including cell phones

With Americans now living longer and healthier lives, the amount of aging drivers on our roads and highways is only expected to increase. In fact, safety experts estimate that 25% of all U.S. drivers in 10 years will be 65 or older. This gives plenty of reason for stereotypes to persist and why researchers and safety officials want to really see how safe older drivers are find effective ways of balancing the needs of an aging and mobile population with public safety.

Safety Study

As part of these efforts, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety will be conducting the largest interdisciplinary study of aging drivers in the U.S. to date this coming spring. Researchers at UC San Diego and other universities across the country will be studying 3,000 drivers between the ages of 65 and 79 for five years. According to officials, the study will track older drivers and their on-road behaviors using GPS technology, medical records, and general testing of their knowledge of auto technology and safety.

The study is prompted by concerns that driving skills can be affected by problems with vision, cognitive function, and frailty - problems that come with aging. They can also be caused by various medications. This is why the study will also be focusing on determining which conditions and which medications most adversely affect drivers.

Assessing Safety

Because there are legitimate concerns regarding aging drivers, many safety experts believe that these types of studies will help promote public safety and create realistic guidelines for regulating drivers as they age. Currently, elderly drivers as well as drivers who exhibit certain patterns or driving behaviors can already face safety assessments with the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). These can include lack of skill, negligent operator, and re-examination hearings.

If you have questions about DMV hearings as an older driver or for an aging loved one, please visit our DMV law website or give the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry, Inc. a call. Our attorneys are available to provide free consultations.