Recent Accident Heightens Concern over Elderly Driver Safety

Near the Florida-Georgia border, a wrong-way crash on Interstate 75 involving a wrong-way, 91-year-old driver, a Greyhound passenger bus headed to Atlanta and another car resulted in at least two deaths and more than a dozen injuries. almostonthemove

Authorities are in the initial investigatory stages of the Hamilton County incident, which raises multiple questions regarding the fitness of drivers as they age and how we can better approach this issue. Georgia car accident attorneys can help accident victims who suffered injuries through no fault of their own.

Should older drivers face stricter driving standards?

There is no official cut-off age at which drivers in Georgia may no longer operate a vehicle.

The Georgia Department of Driver Services indicates that drivers over the age of 59 are eligible for short-term, five-year driver’s licenses and vision screening requirements are mandated for those 64 and older. The agency estimates that there are more than 1 million drivers over the age of 65 in Georgia. More than 620,000 of those are over the age of 70 – and their numbers will continue to grow as the baby boom generation ages.

This also means that it is going to become increasingly important for loved ones to prepare themselves to have potentially uncomfortable discussions regarding a relative’s on-the-road fitness. Those growing older also need to be realistic about how age impacts one’s ability to drive safely, and ways that they can remain independent, while also taking the safety of others into account.

The National Institute on Aging is quick to stress that getting older doesn’t make you a bad driver. But even those who have stellar driving records can be at risk of a deterioration of driving skills over time. Joints get stiff. Muscles weaken. It gets harder to turn your head or the steering wheel quickly. Your eyesight grows poorer. At nighttime especially, glare makes it tough to see, objects beyond your direct line of site are harder to make out. Your hearing may also change, slowing your reaction time to sirens, horns or even noises from your own vehicle. Then there are chronic diseases such as arthritis, Parkinson’s and early stage Alzheimer’s and dementia that can make it especially dangerous to drive.

That kind of judgment call can be tough, but it’s important to take it seriously. The NIA recommends reviewing the following checklist to determine whether it may be time to retire the wheel:

  • Do other drivers frequently honk at me?
  • Do I frequently get lost, even in areas I know?
  • Do pedestrians or other vehicles seemingly appear out of nowhere?
  • Have friends, my doctor or family members expressed concern about my driving?
  • Do I have trouble staying in my own lane?
  • Am I less confident overall about my driving?

Exploring some limitations to start could be the first step.

For those who have been injured in an Atlanta car accident, speaking to an experienced personal injury attorney is the first step to protect your rights.

Call the Law Offices of Gary Martin Hays & Associates, P.C. at 1-800-898-HAYS to schedule a free consultation.

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