An Analysis of Car Accidents as the Leading Cause of Deaths To People Over 65
Car accidents are the leading cause of deaths to people over 65 (Thrive Online. News Poll. 1999). This is one of the many reasons that there should be a required yearly driving test for people 65 and over; I consider anyone 65 or over as elderly. As people get older their senses do not work as well as they did when they were young; this causes people to lose their driving skills. This paper will discuss the reasons on why it is necessary to give the elderly these driving tests.
While elderly drivers take measures to reduce their exposure to traffic accidents, these measures may still leave others exposed to risks caused by elderly drivers. Elderly drivers show an increased effort of self-protection in their driving habits relative to mid-aged drivers (persons between the ages of 25 and 64 years). They not only reduce daily driving, avoid driving at night and during busy hours, and avoid driving on highways, but also drive at lower speeds (about 4 MPH slower) and carry fewer passengers (about 5% fewer).
Despite their increased effort of self-protection in their driving habits, the elderly still show a higher risk of crash and injury than the mid-aged drivers(Thrive Online. News Poll. 1999).
When the elderly adjust their driving habits, they consider the risks they face, but not the external risks they impose on others when they drive. If the elderly are forced to adjust their driving habits further to offset the external risks of their driving, their risk of crash and injury would be reduced and society as a whole would be better off.
As we age, our eyesight begins to fail; our reflexes begin to slow; and we dont gauge speed or distance quite as well. All of those factors increase our likelihood of getting into a car accident (Thrive Online. News Poll. 1999 ). If there were a mandatory annual exam for elderly people in order for them to drive, it would help stop many accidents. This test would include having an eye exam, hearing exam, and an exam that would test the persons reflexes.
The main reason that a law has never been passed for the elderly to have annual driving tests is because the majority of voters are elderly. Even though some elderly drivers have the ability to drive, they vote against it. This is not a law that will take away the licenses of all elderly people; its just a law to ensure that elderly people on the road can see well, hear well, and have good reflexes for safe driving. If an elderly person fails this test they will need to find an alternative way of transportation.
The act of driving is taken for granted but it is a complex task, dependent on cognitive, motor, and sensor perceptual functions. All decline to some extent with advancing years. A driver makes about 20 decisions per mile driven. The older driver is also more likely to have a physical illness (either single or multiple) than the younger driver and is also more likely to on medication which may affect driving (Dr. David B Hogan. The Older Driver. February 1999).
There are also many medical conditions that can affect the driving of an elderly person. Some elderly people have cataracts and dont have much vision at all, but yet they still drive! Another common problem for the elderly is arthritis which can affect turning, braking, and gripping the wheel (Dr. David B Hogan. The Older Driver. February 1999). If an elderly person has any of these conditions they can cause very bad accidents which could be stopped if they have a driving test.
It may seem mean to have the elderly take yearly tests, but it is worth the lives that can be saved. Elderly drivers that dont have the physical ability to drive should be taken off the road; this would help stop many accidents and save many lives. If you think the elderly should have a mandatory annual driving exam then vote for this bill and let your congressman know how you feel about this subject.