Some older drivers in Wisconsin are losing their safe driving skillsThe population aged 65 and over is growing quickly. Another group that demographers call the “oldest old”—people over age 85—is growing fastest of all.

While many seniors remain safe drivers for decades, others find it increasingly difficult to maintain safe driving habits. Even worse, they may not recognize that their driving skills have declined. Experts predict that as the Baby Boom generation ages, the number of serious auto accidents caused by unsafe older drivers will skyrocket.

Common Causes of Car Crashes With Older Drivers

Some of the reasons why older drivers may be at greater risk of causing car crashes include;

  • Vision. Having good eyesight plays a vital role in driving safely. Bad eyesight can be very dangerous to the driver as well as to others on the road.
  • Memory. Some people have problems with their memory as they age. This can be due to a number of different reasons. Forgetting traffic safety laws while driving can be dangerous.
  • Delayed reaction time. As one ages, the ability to quickly react to a situation is slowed. If a situation arises where a quick reaction is demanded while driving, an elderly driver may end up causing a traffic accident.
  • Hearing. Hearing is often used while driving. Listening for sounds like horns, sirens, and screeching brakes can prevent accidents. If a driver is unable to hear these sounds, a crash may occur.
  • Medications. Many senior citizens take daily medications that can make them tired or interfere with safe driving.

Of course, the reasons why teens and younger adults cause car crashes still apply to older drivers. For example, older drivers who drink and drive, speed, are distracted while driving or are otherwise negligent may cause dangerous auto accidents.

License Renewal and Reconsideration for Senior Drivers in Wisconsin

Not all older drivers are dangerous, and many elderly drivers who can’t drive safely decide to stop driving voluntarily. Unfortunately, some unsafe older drivers refuse to relinquish their driving privileges willingly. In those cases, society trusts family members, friends, and physicians to persuade the driver that it is time to stop driving. Unfortunately, sometimes their efforts are not enough to convince an older driver to stop driving.

Accordingly, state action is important in protecting older drivers and those with whom they share the road, and the state of Wisconsin is taking steps to minimize automobile injuries caused by unsafe older drivers. Specifically:

  • All drivers who renew their driver’s licenses may be required to take vision exams regardless of their age.
  • There is a procedure for reporting medically impaired drivers. This procedure is not specific to drivers over age 65, but senior citizens who drive may fall into the category of medically impaired. Anyone may report concerns about an unsafe driver to the Medical Review Unit of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT). On receiving the report, the Medical Review Unit will investigate the case and take appropriate action. Possible actions include testing the older driver, requiring a vision or medical exam, or revoking the driving license.

It is important to note that due to Wisconsin’s Open Records Law, most reports made to the Medical Review Unit are not anonymous. If you report an elderly relative as unsafe, he or she will be able to find out who filed that report. If this is a concern, then you can file a confidential report in person while signing a special Pledge of Confidentiality form before a WisDOT witness.

What to Do If You’ve Been Hurt by an Older Driver in Wisconsin

Despite every effort to keep unsafe drivers of any age off the road, serious auto accidents still happen. If you have been hurt or if your loved one has been killed, then you need to take action quickly, before the statute of limitations expires.

You can get started today by scheduling a free consultation with our experienced lawyers. We will help you get the recovery that you deserve which could include compensation for your past, current and future medical expenses, lost income, pain, suffering, and other costs. Please start a live chat with us now to learn more.

Jason F. Abraham
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Managing Partner, Hupy and Abraham