Older drivers face higher risk for fatal car accidents

Many elderly people risk being hurt or killed in an accident, or hurting someone else. State laws vary on renewing older drivers’ licenses.

Independence is an important thing for everyone, especially for senior citizens who gradually have to deal with increasing physical and even mental struggles. Unfortunately, statistics have shown that not only are older drivers at an increased risk of being injured or killed in an accident, but they are more at risk of causing accidents that injure others. Consumer Reports states that people above the age of 80 are six times more likely to be involved in a fatal car accident than younger drivers.

Each day, more than a dozen senior citizens are killed in car accidents, and 500 more are seriously injured, say the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Driving laws for older residents in New Mexico

Unless a medical restriction is determined by a doctor, senior citizens have the same driving rights and privileges as everyone else in the state. Everyone must take a vision test with every driver's license renewal, regardless of age. However, there are no additional tests or restrictions for older drivers in New Mexico, says Claims Journal, except the requirement that drivers renew annually after age 75. A doctor may need to provide a note if there are any health conditions that can restrict driving.

Some people may believe that passing a certain age makes a person unsafe to drive, no matter whether he or she passed a vision test. KOAT News reported on a recent event, during which a 92-year-old man drove the wrong way on U.S. 550 in Albuquerque and reportedly almost caused a few head-on collisions before police pulled him over. He was cited for reckless driving, and a letter was written questioning whether he was able to continue driving.

Different factors that can impact an older person's driving ability

There are many reasons elderly people may be deemed unfit to drive. According to NIH Senior Health, these can include:

  • Declining physical health and illnesses.
  • Poor vision and hearing ability.
  • Cognitive and mental impairments.
  • Reduced reflexes and timing.

Many older drivers may take a variety of measures that can prolong their ability to drive by several months or even years. Still, even the best precautions are not always completely effective. It's also difficult to make the choice to give up the keys, which can result in some elderly drivers remaining behind the wheel when it is no longer safe for them to drive.

Contacting an attorney

If you were hurt in an accident caused by an elderly driver or anyone else, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your rights.

Keywords: car accident, personal injury