YOUR TURN: Restrictions for Elderly Drivers?
Should the state intervene when drivers reach a certain age?
Last week, an elderly driver up in Malden crashed through a backyard and ended up in a pool. While this and other nationally publicized accidents raise public concerns about senior drivers, AAA says it is a myth that seniors are among the nation’s most dangerous. Instead, AAA's Jake Nelson said just the opposite is true.
“Recent data tells us that drivers in their 70s get into about the same number of crashes per mile driven as do drivers in their 30s,” said Nelson, who is AAA’s director of Traffic Safety Advocacy and Research. “On average, drivers in their mid- to late-80s still have lower crash rates per mile driven than drivers in their early 20s, and roughly half the crash rates of teenagers — the nation’s riskiest drivers.”
Nelson said a national AAA survey shows 80 percent of senior drivers “self-police” their driving by voluntarily avoiding one or more higher-risk driving situations like driving at night or during rush-hour times of day.
AAA has also found that age, on its own, is not what leads to a loss of driving skills. Instead, medical conditions that come with aging — which can affect drivers as early as in their 40s — are what commonly reduce driving ability.
But AAA notes that with 10,000 Americans a day turning 65, an increasing number of families are faced with the challenge of balancing safety and mobility for older loved ones.
Readers - what do you think? Should Massachusetts put restrictions on elderly drivers? If so, what kind? If not - why?
[Editor's note: This item is posted on all eight Boston Patch sites.]