Did you know drivers aged 70+ have higher crash death rates per mile driven than middle-aged drivers (aged 35-54)?
It’s true – people age 70 and older are more likely to crash than any other age group besides drivers age 25 and younger. Higher crash death rates among this age group are primarily due to increased vulnerability to injury in a crash. Because many older drivers are more fragile than younger drivers, they are more likely to get hurt or die from these crashes.
As we age, factors such as decreased vision, impaired hearing, slower motor reflexes, and worsening health conditions can cause problems. Aging also may decrease strength, coordination, and flexibility, which can also impact our ability to control a car safely.
It’s important to note, driving cessation in the elderly has been associated with a decline in out-of-home activity levels, increased depression, and an increased likelihood of entry into long-term care facilities. Therefore, the major question arises as to when should a physically or cognitively impaired older adult stop driving, and how do we recognize when that time has come?
The most common distracted driving behaviors among older drivers
- talking on the phone (even hands-free)
- concentrating on the navigation system (in-car or phone GPS system) instead of the road
- eating and drinking
Is there a legal age when someone must stop driving?
No, there’s no legal age at which you must stop driving. You can decide when to stop as long as you don’t have any medical conditions that affect your driving. Driver License renewal requirement vary by state.
Drivers Age 79 or Older in Texas
In addition to the regular driver license renewal requirements, if you are 79 years of age or older, you will be required to renew your driver license in-person at your local driver license office. During your renewal, you will be required to successfully pass a vision test, and a license and permit specialist will evaluate your responses provided at the time of your renewal regarding your medical history to determine if any additional testing is required.
Texas Renewal Requirements
To learn more, visit the Texas Department of Public Safety: https://www.dps.texas.gov/section/driver-license/drivers-age-79-or-older
Tips for safe older drivers
- Seat belts save lives! Always buckle up before starting the car.
- Mute your cell phone. Some phones have a “do not disturb” option when driving.
- Do not eat while driving.
- Do not drink alcohol and drive. Even if you believe you have a high tolerance for booze, it decreases everyone’s reaction time.
- Limit distractions, including conversation and talk radio.
- Systematically watch the road through all windows and mirrors.
- Drive during daylight as much as possible.
- Avoid driving in bad weather.
For more tips, see our post titled Driving Safety Tips for Seniors.
We hope this information is helpful to you in the important work you do as a family caregiver.
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