To answer the question, one should know that older drivers are not exactly a well-defined category. Apart from not setting an age limit, the difficulty arises from the fact that there are no two people of the same age sharing the same driving abilities. Another problem is that, as of a certain age, older drivers can become quickly impaired, due to a fall, a surgical operation or declining vision.
Why do older drivers present greater risks in Wisconsin?
The general trend is that older people experience, with every passing year, more physical and mental issues that have an increasing impact on their ability to drive:
Motor Function: Older people have trouble getting in and out of their cars. Their grip on the steering wheel, ability to slam the brakes or turn the head to look sideways or backwards is limited because of muscular weakness and stiffness.
Vision: Most people have declining vision with old age, frequently compounded by diseases like glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration and stroke. The elderly are generally more sensitive to changes in lightness and glare.
Cognition: Driving in dense traffic can be challenging, and requires focus, anticipation, coordination, speed of execution, memory and visual processing. For some elderly persons, driving is a far more complex activity than what they normally do during the day, and goes beyond their ability to cope. Some older drivers react by driving more slowly, which creates additional risks on the road.
General Health: Elders, far more than people in younger age groups, could be suffering from a wider range of illnesses that limit their ability to drive, such as: arthritis, strokes, seizures, diabetes, and back pain. Taking more medication, older drivers are also subject to more of their side effects, like drowsiness or dizziness and reduced focus and reaction time.
Can't elderly people just stop driving?
For elders, having to give up driving is often a painful prospect. No one would like giving up independence and the ability to go around freely and meet people. Authorities will only rescind driving privileges if the driver is unable to pass a vision test. The decision to stop driving is therefore an individual one that can be greatly helped by children, relatives, friends and the driver's doctor.
Hupy & Abraham, S.C. has offices in Milwaukee, Madison, Appleton in Wisconsin, and Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, and Quad Cities in Iowa, and Gurnee and Bloomington in Illinois. If you or someone you love has been hurt in a car, truck or motorcycle accident, contact Hupy & Abraham today at 800-800-5676 (toll-free) or 414-223-4800 (local) for a free evaluation of your case, or send us an e-mail with your questions.