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Increased risk of car accidents in the elderly

As people grow older, they often lose their ability to respond to sudden situations they encounter while driving. In fact, people over the age of 65, otherwise referred to as mature drivers, may have difficulties when it comes to driving alongside other motorists. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 40 million drivers over the age of 65 were licensed in the United States in 2015. That same year more than 260,000 mature drivers were injured and 6,800 were killed in motor vehicle accidents

One of the main reasons why the risk of being involved in a car accident increases as people age is the decline in vision, cognitive functioning and motor skills. Older drivers may develop eye conditions, such as macular degeneration, cataracts and glaucoma. They also have decreased peripheral vision and may have difficulty judging the speed and distance of oncoming vehicles. Mature motorists may suffer from a decreased ability to focus and remember critical rules of the road. Finally, their motor skills, including turning the wheel quickly and buckling up, may be affected as well. When these risks are combined with drowsiness, distraction or impairment, mature drivers are at higher risk of becoming involved in an accident. 

Approximately 33 states in the U.S. have special provisions for elderly drivers when it comes to renewing their driver’s licenses. In Louisiana, drivers 70 years and older are not able to renew their license by mail. However, they are still only required to renew their licenses every four years like regular drivers. Other states require elderly drivers to renew their licenses more often and/or take frequent vision and agility tests. 

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