Californians put at risk by elderly drivers sharing the roads

Older drivers in California can put others at risk if they suffer from physical or mental impairments that make it unsafe to drive.

It's understandable that many people may not want to hand over their keys upon reaching a certain age, when it becomes too dangerous to drive. However, the time comes for everyone when physical or mental restrictions become too serious to risk hurting someone in an accident. Not every senior citizen in California gives up the right to drive easily, unfortunately. Some older drivers need to be persuaded, while others will continue driving until someone gets hurt.

Consumer Reports and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention agree that older drivers are at a higher risk of being in a car accident. Each day, about 15 older drivers are killed in car accidents while an additional 500 are injured. Drivers over the age of 80 are six times more likely to be in a fatal accident than those who are younger.

It is uncertain what exactly caused an accident last September that resulted in the deaths of two elderly people in San Mateo County. Bay City News said that the 84-year-old man had been driving a van that struck a San Mateo County Transit District bus head-on. The man's 79-year-old wife was killed on the scene, and the critically injured elderly driver later died in the hospital. Five bus passengers suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

Driver's license requirements for seniors in California

The California Department of Motor Vehicles says that it does not seize people's licenses at any particular age, but drivers over the age of 70 are required to renew their licenses in person, to screen for potential dangers.

These dangers can include a number of health and cognitive issues, says NIH Senior Health. They may include:

  • Physical restrictions such as diabetes, heart disease or other chronic illnesses
  • Mental impairments such as dementia or confusion
  • Declining vision, hearing or mobility
  • Decreased ability to recognize or avoid a hazard

It can be discouraging to imagine the loss of independence after giving up the right to drive. HelpGuide says that some senior citizens may be able to prolong their driving abilities by speaking with a doctor about whether certain treatments or medications can improve their conditions and make it safer to drive. It's also important to get adequate sleep before driving, and to never get behind the wheel after taking medications that induce drowsiness.

Getting help from an attorney

Even with the best treatments and precautions, senior citizens will eventually need to stop driving or risk causing a potentially catastrophic accident. If you've been injured in an accident that was caused by a negligent older driver, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your rights.

Keywords: car, accident, injury