“An eighty-six year old man killed ten people and injured more than seventy when he drove his Buick into a crowded farmers market in California. In Florida, an eighty-four year old woman drove her car through a window of a Sears and into a cash register and employee” (Murphy). Sadly enough, instances like these are becoming more and more prevalent and require immediate action. It is imperative that a more comprehensive approach be taken when deciding the competence of elderly drivers. Laws must be put into action to mandate and administer testing and re-examining of the skills and eligibility of this group. Equally important, we must consider those who will no longer be able to drive, and ensure their transportation and occupational needs will be fulfilled. With today’s growing number of American senior citizens, we must consider the importance of an effective resolution to support senior mobility while reducing crashes. To reduce danger present on the roads, after the age of seventy, drivers should be required to undergo thorough vision, hearing, and most importantly a road test, to be eligible for a renewed license.
According to a study by Carnegie Mellon University, “fatality rates for drivers begin to climb after the age of sixty-five.” Though this does not apply to every driver over a certain age, it is a widespread problem. While age alone does not determine a person’s ability to operate a motor vehicle, some traits that come along with the aging process can affect a person’s capability. Wendy Stav, an assistant professor of occupational therapy at Townson University, said, “Older people are more apt to have health issues that directly affect their driving.” “With age, nervous system activities are slowed” (Shulman, Silverman, & Golden).
“The nervous system is responsible for thinking, reasoning, and other cognitive processes, as well as body movements. Older adults are thus slower in receiving information through sensory receptors, slower in transmitting, processing, and interpreting information, and are slower in acting upon it” (Shulman, Silverman, & Golden).
Additionally, many elderly people experience side effects from prescription medications and are not even aware of it. A report conducted by AAA determined that “prescription medications pose a threat to traffic safety, with only twenty-eight percent of seniors fifty-five or older aware of the potential impact those drugs can have on their driving” (Many Elderly Drivers). For example, some medicines commonly taken for anxiety or insomnia can cause confusion, drowsiness, decreased motor skills, and impaired memory” (Reutter). The Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported, “elderly citizens made up nine percent of the residential population, but accounted for fourteen percent of all traffic fatalities, and caused seventeen percent of all pedestrian fatalities” (qtd. Murphy). These numbers are particularly frightening now because the U.S. Census Bureau projects that there...