Elderly Drivers

May 19, 2011
By , Columbus, MT
Introduction

Being a teenage driver I tend to be very cautious of my surroundings. As any person ages their body tends to have disadvantages mentally and physically so that they are unable to react as fast as they once did. They tend to drive slower, not look before they go and not see as well. When they do so the other people who drive on the road tend to have to be more careful, and cautious of the elderly. I am biased due to the many elderly that live in my town that do not look before they back up and I have had to slam on the brakes and hope that the people behind me react as fast as I did and not rear end me. I think once people hit 70 they should be tested every 2 years on their driving ability on a closed course and their eyesight. I will now summarize the opposing view points.

Description of Opposing Perspectives

I agree that the elderly have been driving for many years and have a lot of experience. They do not want to have “kids” dictating whether or not they can drive. I have read about a 91 year old Iowa woman in good health who drives regularly with records showing no accidents, just like every other age group. I understand that the car represents “freedom”, driving is one of the last areas of independence and I am not suggesting taking that away. In rural Montana there are many elderly living alone on “the ranch”. Some elderly have no one to drive them. In many towns there is no form of public transportation like buses or taxis. When you have to ask someone to pick you up and get groceries or go to the doctor, it is very inconvenient. They may be too busy or late getting them to a scheduled appointment. I understand that it is hard to depend on others.

My Position on the Issue

In the next 20 years the number of elderly drivers, 70 years and older, is predicted to triple in the U. S. We need to keep the roads safe at both ends of the age spectrum. There are specific rules for teen driver’s, but only one for the elderly driver’s to renew there license every 4 years instead of 8, with no special requirements unless the driver’s ability is in question. We need guidelines to ensure that all motorists and pedestrians are safe no matter who is behind the wheel. As we all get older our physical and mental abilities are declining. Sometimes we need others to help recognize our limitations. Although some people such as my Grandma Bertha choose to stop driving. She has poor eyesight in one eye, which made her depth perception off. She had a hard time telling how far away somethings are and could only trust the sight of one eye. So she herself decided to stop driving because of these issues. Most people, elderly or not, don’t want the loss of that freedom and have to start depending on others for transportation.

According to the 1997 NHTSA study, research on age-related driving concerns has shown that around the age of 65 drivers face an increased risk of being involved in a vehicle crash. After the age of 75, the risk of driver fatality increases sharply, because older drivers are more vulnerable to both crash-related injury and death. Three behavioral factors in particular may contribute to these statistics: poor judgement in making left-hand turns; drifting within the traffic lane; and decreased ability to change behavior in response to an unexpected or rapidly changing situation.





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