A recent chain-reaction crash in Atlanta raises awareness about roadway safety and senior drivers. An 80-year-old driver, Raymond Reed, was going the wrong way on Interstate 985. His Buick LeSabre crashed head-on into a Ford F-150, pickup truck. A Honda Civic then struck the pickup truck and a semi-truck grazed Reed’s car. Sadly, Reed was pronounced dead on the scene. The three other drivers and two children survived the crash. There is no word yet on the condition of the survivors.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2008, over 5,500 older adults were killed and more than 183,000 were injured in motor vehicle accidents. Those numbers average out to 15 older adults killed each day with 500 of them being injured. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety also remarks that fatal crashes increase at age 75 and go up notably after age 80. Many researchers attribute these numbers to the declining physical and cognitive health of people in this age group. However, researchers also note that this age group has an increased susceptibility to injuries and medical complications which could also account for the large numbers.
When to give up driving can be a controversial subject for family members to bring up with elderly drivers. Adult children and family members should create a dialogue with senior drivers to discuss safe driving habits and when it may be time to quit. Many seniors give up driving a little bit at a time. With declining vision and cognitive skills, the aging population has the potential to pose a great risk to the safety of roadways. Unfortunately, for most senior citizens, driving means independence. If other transportation options can be made available, the transition may be much easier.
With the aging baby boomer population, the concern with elderly driver safety is growing. Some people are even advocating for an age limit on licenses. Many states require senior drivers to take vision and driving tests more frequently in order to renew their licenses. Texas requires drivers to renew their licenses in person when they reach age 79. A basic medical evaluation is conducted at the time of renewal. When drivers reach age 85, they must renew on their second birthday after the previous expiration date. The team at Altman Legal Group sends their deepest condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Reed and also hopes for the speedy recovery of everybody involved in the crash.