Alcohol and distractions, such as texting, are the cause of a majority of traffic accidents. However, there is another factor that contributes to the accident total, age.
The general consensus is that the older people get, the sooner they should have to renew their license. Even Scott Rohde, chief of police at UWL, weighed in on the topic. “There are five incidents that I can think of where we had elderly drivers try to go through campus. If we’re concerned about the mental or physical health of an older individual we can refer to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation and they can force a driver to re-take their exam.”
On the topic of automatic retesting after a certain age he commented, “I would support retesting after age seventy-five or above.”
There is a natural decline in a person’s vision, reaction time, flexibility, hearing, and memory retention. While the age varies from person to person, the age when driving becomes especially dangerous is past seventy years old.
Elderly people only account for roughly nine percent of the population. But according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, they cause fourteen percent of all traffic fatalities and seventeen percent of all pedestrian related fatalities.
Cars are a common form of transportation, also the leading cause of death for healthy individuals. And almost every fatality is the product of human error.
Each state has its own laws regarding elderly drivers, but there is very little consistency across states. Virginia, Florida, and California all require elderly people to renew their license after a specified age. The states require them to pass an eye exam and a written test. This is repeated every so many years. In Arizona, a license won’t be renewed until age sixty-five, and then it’s renewed every five years. Wisconsin has all of its drivers renew their license every eight years, but has no special revisions for elderly drivers.
These accidents don’t occur because elderly people are reckless drivers, quite the opposite in fact. Elderly people tend to avoid driving at night or in bad weather, they don’t drink and drive, and they are less likely to speed. The problem is the physical decline of health that comes naturally to all drivers.