There’s no doubt that as we get older, our deteriorating health makes us a risk to ourselves and others on the road. In 2010, senior drivers were involved in 6,060 motor vehicle crashes which resulted in 2,926 injured persons and 42 deaths, according to the Utah Department for Public Safety. And nationally, the CDC states that the risk of being injured or killed in a motor vehicle crash increases as people age. However, driving becomes an ever-more valuable means to retain independence in later life. By maintaining our mobility, we can keep active and preserve life-long routines.
So what can be done to reduce the risks of driving for seniors? Let’s look at the support available in Iron County.
Laws of the land
Utah state law has the following precautions in place:
- Regardless of age, licenses must be renewed every five years
- Starting at the age of 65, drivers must take a vision test with each renewal
- A medical evaluation may be required at the time of renewal if there is concern over a medical condition that may interfere with driving
- A DMV reexamination is undertaken when a person’s driving skills are called into question due to the driver’s physical or mental condition, or their driving record
- A restricted driver license may be imposed e.g. eyeglasses must be worn at certain times, or driving is restricted between sunrise and sunset
There are extra things we can do to ensure the safety of senior drivers. If you are a senior driver, be aware of the possible warning signs that may make driving more difficult, such as getting lost in areas you once knew or an inability to read traffic signs. You may need to be more cautious when driving: plan your route well ahead and only drive in good conditions. And it may be prudent to refresh your skills by attending a driving course, such as that provided especially for seniors by AARP in Cedar City.
If you are concerned about an elderly relative or friend who drives, it’s important to discuss the issue with them. Alternatively, you can confidentially report an unsafe driver under Utah state law.
Read the tips in this insightful article to ensure you are fully aware of what to look out for and how to handle the issues of driving for seniors, whether for yourself or for a loved one.