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All Press Releases for December 18, 2012 »
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Aging Drivers Face Increased Risk of Car Accidents

Driving is a symbol of independence, especially as people get older. However, it may actually be very dangerous for some older people to get behind the wheel of a car.
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    December 18, 2012 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Independence is a big part of quality of life, especially as people get older. Nobody likes feeling as though they have to rely on others to accomplish basic daily tasks like running errands or going to the doctor. However, it is important to understand that it may actually be very dangerous for some older people to get behind the wheel of a car.

As of 2009--the most recent year for which data is available--people over age 65 represented 13 percent of the population in the United States, but accounted for 16 percent of all car accident deaths. All told, 5,593 people were killed in 2009 in fatal car accidents involving older drivers.

The natural effects of the aging process put older drivers at greater risk of being involved in a car accident. For example, many older people start to experience gradual--but significant--declines in visual acuity. Even those who can see well most of the time may have trouble with glare or low-light situations. In addition, many older people experience loss of strength, flexibility and motor function that can limit their ability to drive safely and comfortably.

Of course, when it comes to driving safety, mental changes can be just as dangerous as physical ones. Older people who are still strong and healthy may be experiencing mental challenges nonetheless. Forgetfulness, inattention and the early stages of dementia are all common problems among older drivers. Many frequently-prescribed medications can exacerbate these problems and contribute to car accidents, so it is important for older drivers to talk with their doctors about potential side effects.

Illinois aging driver rules

Illinois has tried to address the problems relating older drivers by placing additional restrictions on senior citizens' driver's licenses.

Most drivers in Illinois are required to renew their licenses every four years. However, drivers between the ages of 81 and 86 must renew their licenses every two years. Drivers age 86 and older are subject to annual renewal.

In addition, drivers age 75 and older are required to take a road test before their driver's license can be renewed. The road test is designed to ensure that drivers have the skills and acuity necessary to safely operate a motor vehicle.

These restrictions, though, can only do so much to keep dangerous drivers off the road. Driving tests can't catch every problem, and a lot can change in the years between license renewals.

Because the changes associated with aging come on gradually, it can be hard for older people to realize that it is no longer safe for them to drive. Others may not want to admit that they are having trouble and give up their freedom.

As such, it is important for family members to keep an eye on their aging loved ones. Even though it might be uncomfortable to tell a loved one that they should not be driving, having that conversation can--quite literally -- be the difference between life and death.

Article provided by Cavanagh Law Group
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