There are two age groups that have the highest likelihood of ending up in an auto body shop needing their car fixed, or worse. It’s probably no surprise that it’s teenagers and the elderly. Teenagers aged 16-17 are nine times more likely to crash their car versus middle-aged drivers. The elderly aged 80 and older are over five times more likely to be involved in a fatal accident.
According to Pew Research Center, by 2030 the population of those 65 and older will represent about one in five drivers. On top of their age impeding their ability to drive safely, their age and fragility also means more injuries when involved in an accident.
Much has been done to drop teen traffic deaths and since 1975 the teen death toll has dropped by 62 percent. One reason for this is that many states have implemented graduated driver-licensing laws. Other things that can contribute to teen safety behind the wheel are parents that are actively involved in the process and who set rules around their teen driving. Advanced driver training can also be a big help in helping young drivers learn what to do in an emergency.
The challenge that we have with the elderly is coming up with a system to know when the deterioration of their cognitive and physical abilities translates into it no longer being safe for them to drive. Currently 28 states have unique provisions for renewing a license for older drivers. These include more frequent renewals and vision and road tests.
As you age, driving involves more than just jumping into a car and driving. AAA, AARP and the American Occupational Therapy Association sponsor a program called CarFit that helps seniors assess things like seat position, mirrors, head restraints, and controls.
Families of the elderly need to be involved and plan for the transportation needs of their older family members just like they plan finances and insurance. In the suburbs where public transportation is less prevalent a plan needs to be put into place for getting around. And most importantly, plan in advance and broach the subject gradually.
Check out AAA’s self-rating tool on their website. It helps seniors assess their skills and gives advice on maximizing safety on the road.
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Source: Consumer Reports