Statistics released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that seniors account for as many as 18% of all the drivers involved in fatal car collisions every year. Seniors are classified as drivers who are 65 years of age or older. Although the younger generation is considered risky when out on the road, those who are older the 65 are just as risky, if not more so, then the teenage population who gets such a bad rapport.
Statistics also show that over 14 million Americans were in a car accident with a driver who was a senior citizen. The reason might be that being older increases your risk of being in a car accident. Studies show that with increased age comes a decreased reaction time, and after age 80, drivers are as much as six times more likely to be in a fatal car accident than their younger companions. This means that elderly drivers pose a significant risk when they are out on Houston streets.
Why the elderly are riskier drivers
Although seniors are less likely to speed, they are the cause of many more fatal car accidents than other age groups. Their inability to react quickly might be to blame. Their slow reaction time is especially problematic at intersections because they often don’t see signs, make improper left-hand turns or fail to yield when necessary.
Older drivers also have a lower threshold of attention for obstacles on the road and dangers when they present themselves.
The biggest contributing factors of increased risk when seniors are behind the wheel are:
- Age-related injuries or illnesses
- Failing vision or hearing, which might desensitize people to hazards
- A decline in mental acuity or cognition related to dementia or Alzheimer’s that has yet to be diagnosed
How Texas deals with driving laws for seniors
Due to the increased risk of seniors being in a fatal car accident, the Department of Public Safety and the Department of Motor Vehicles have special laws that apply to people who are over the age of 79.
If you are ages 79 to 84, you have to renew your license through the state every six years by physically going to the DMV. If you are over 85, then you have to renew your license in person every two years. Drivers who are 79 or older have to submit to a medical evaluation and a vision screening to renew their license. Additionally, family members concerned about the driving behaviors of their loved ones can request that the DMV investigate whether their loved one should continue to drive or not.
What is a Possible License Restriction?
If a person is considered high-risk, they might be able to maintain their license, but have specific driving restrictions. If they don’t fail but are having difficulty passing their exam, then certain restrictions might apply. These restrictions can include:
- Not being allowed to drive on the freeway
- Only driving when there is someone over the age of 21 as a passenger in the car
- Only driving during daytime hours
- Staying under 45 miles per hour
- Wearing their hearing aids when behind the wheel
- Using vehicles equipped with tools to make it easier and safer to drive
If you believe that your loved one should not be behind the wheel of a car either for their own safety or for the safety of others, then you can ask the Department of Motor Vehicles to investigate and determine whether your loved one should retain their license or not.
For additional help, you can also ask that their physician request an investigation. If you need help because you have been in an accident with a senior citizen or you are a senior who has mistakenly had their license revoked, then it is possible to hire a injury attorney in Houston to help you.