Worried elderly person drives an automobile

While many senior citizens remain safe drivers for decades, others find it increasingly difficult to maintain safe driving habits. Some older drivers do not recognize that their driving skills have declined, putting them at risk of a car accident. There are ways for senior citizen drivers to stay safe if they continue to drive and ways you can help keep your loved one off the road if their driving poses a danger for others while driving.

Common Causes of Car Crashes With Older Drivers

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2019, 20% of all traffic fatalities were people 65 and older. There are many reasons why older drivers are at a higher risk of causing car accidents. These reasons include:

  • Poor vision. Having good eyesight plays a vital role in driving safely. Bad eyesight can be very dangerous to the driver and others on the road.
  • Memory problems. 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.
  • Impaired 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, an accident may occur.
  • Medications. Many senior citizens take daily medications that can make them tired or interfere with safe driving.
  • Medical conditions. Having certain medical conditions can increase the risk for an accident. Conditions such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s Disease can greatly impact your ability to drive safely.
  • Negligence. Drivers of any age can cause an accident. Factors such as driving under the influence, speeding, distracted driving, and other issues can all be the cause of a car crash.

What to Do When It’s No Longer Safe to Drive

There are several signs that can indicate that it is no longer safe for an elderly person to continue driving. If you notice that your loved one has visible damage to their vehicle, is easily distracted, has been getting lost while driving, is driving too slow for the speed limit, or has problems with parking, it may be time for them to stop driving.

Once you notice that your loved one’s driving has declined and you feel that it is no longer safe for them to be on the road, there are several steps to take to stop them from driving. Some things to do are:

  • Have a conversation about your concerns and how you feel about their continued driving.
  • Offer alternatives to driving, such as taking public transit, using a rideshare service, or accepting rides from family or friends.
  • Do not loan your vehicle or provide a vehicle to a senior who is no longer a safe driver.
  • Register a concern with your state’s licensing department so that they can address the problem and have your senior citizen’s driving evaluated.
  • Ask for support from other family or close friends. You may even be able to ask your loved one’s doctor for help.

Keeping Senior Citizen’s Safe While Driving

Many senior citizens feel more independent if they are able to drive themselves to where they need to go. They may not be willing to quit driving just because they are aging. If your loved one is able to continue driving, there are several things to do that can help them drive more safely. Some things to consider are:

  • Using technology such as a GPS to help guide them to their destination while driving or use an app to monitor their location, speed, and driving habits.
  • Add enhancements to their vehicle such as a seat cushion to give them more height and to make it easier to see over the steering wheel and a panoramic rear-view mirror to increase rear-view visibility and to eliminate blind spots.
  • Encourage them not to drive at night or when weather conditions are poor.

Licensing Requirements for Senior Drivers

Licensing requirements for senior drivers vary from state to state. No state is able to revoke a driver’s license based on the person’s age alone, but there may be additional requirements for drivers as they age. For example:

  • In Illinois, drivers age 75 and older are required to take a driver’s road test every time they renew their license. Drivers aged 81 to 86 must renew their licenses every two years, and those older than 87 must renew their licenses yearly.
  • In Iowa, if you are age 70 or older, you must provide proof of adequate vision in order to renew your license. In addition, if you are 70 or older, you must renew your license in person, not online.
  • In Wisconsin, all drivers who renew their driver’s licenses may be required to take vision exams regardless of their age. Wisconsin also has restrictions that it can impose on elderly drivers, such as driving in daylight only, restricting driving to a geographic area, and not permitting freeway or interstate driving.

What to Do If You’ve Been Hurt by an Elderly Driver

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. If you have been hurt by an elderly driver, you can do the following:

  • Seek medical attention for any injuries you suffered, no matter how minor.
  • File a police report and obtain a copy.
  • Gather evidence from the accident scene, including names and contact information about the other driver, witnesses, etc.
  • Contact an attorney as soon as possible.

If an elderly driver caused the accident due to negligence, you may be able to recover damages for any injuries that you suffered. Damages may include the following:

  • Loss of past, current, and future income
  • Medical expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Property damage

If you or a loved one were injured in a car accident caused by an elderly driver, you can schedule a free consultation with our experienced lawyers at Hupy and Abraham to better understand your legal rights. We encourage you to contact us today to make sure that your rights are protected.

Have You Been Injured In A Wisconsin, Illinois or Iowa Car Accident?

If you've been injured in a car accident you should speak to an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible. You can contact us online or call our office directly at 800.800.5678 to schedule your free consultation with one of our car accident lawyers. We have been helping car accident victims since 1964 and service clients throughout Illinois, Wisconsin and Iowa

Jason F. Abraham
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Helping car accident and personal injury victims throughout Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa since 1993.