Here at our Phoenix personal injury law practice, we often represent senior clients who have been injured in an accident, and we know that they are generally good, responsible drivers who often do everything right and still become victims of someone else's carelessness.
Because of the aging of the post-World War II "Baby Boom" generation, the number of senior drivers on our highways will increase by 70 percent over the next 20 years. Unfortunately, auto accident rates for older Americans are higher than for any other demographic – with the exception of teenagers. These statistics present a large conundrum for families; adult children would rather talk to their parents about funeral arrangements than about giving up their car keys. Fortunately, there are more tools available than ever before, and they are readily accessible to every older citizen. Resources to keep older drivers safe include:
- Self-assessment tools (http://seniordriving.aaa.com/evaluate-your-driving-ability; www.aarp.org)
- Driver refresher courses (AARP Driver Safety Program and Smart Driver Course)
- In-person renewal of driver's license
- Driver fitness medical guidelines (Created by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA)
- Public transportation (Reduced rates for seniors)
In Arizona, the time between renewals is accelerated when a person reaches the age of 65, and license renewal by mail must include verification of a vision test within 3 months prior to the renewal. People age 70 and above must renew in person at a Motor Vehicle Department (MVD) site. Seniors may be required to take an on-site vision examination and/or a written examination to assess their ability to drive.
When do you know it is time to hand over your car keys? You are the only one who knows how you feel. If you find that you are having difficulty doing any of the following, you should consider finding other transportation:
- Looking over your shoulder
- Moving your foot from the gas pedal to the brake
- Turning the steering wheel
- Reading or recognizing road signs
- Seeing after experiencing the glare from oncoming headlights
The ability to drive represents freedom and independence to our senior citizens, and they may be reluctant to admit that they are unable to drive as well as they always have. Tips about discussing this uncomfortable subject with your family may be found at The ability to drive represents freedom and independence to our senior citizens, and they may be reluctant to admit that they are unable to drive as well as they always have. Tips about discussing this uncomfortable subject with your family may be found at www.nhtsa.dot.gov.
Jay Ciulla is a Phoenix personal injury lawyer. Call (602) 495-0053 for a free consultation.