How Aging Compromises Safe Driving Ability

Elderly drivers in a carThough driving privileges might make elderly folks feel more independent, an average of 586 older adults are injured every day in car accidents, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For this reason, it’s important to stay aware of the increased risk older drivers pose, know what Virginia law says about elderly drivers, and understand what you can do if you’re involved in an accident with an older adult.

Elderly Drivers Create Riskier Roads

In Virginia, an elderly driver is anyone aged 75 or older. As people age, habits, physical abilities, and mental health begin to alter. Unfortunately, these changes can lead to many types of serious accidents. The following are ways elderly drivers pose unique risks to other drivers on the road:

  • Losing practice. Often, older drivers are in retirement, and therefore do not drive as often as they used to when driving to work. This can lead to a driver becoming less practiced and unready to make safe driving decisions.
  • Decreased physical readiness. Aging comes with physical changes. Back problems, arthritis in the hands and other joints, and muscle depletion can make the physical act of driving more difficult for elderly drivers—creating the opportunity for inadequate reaction times or the inability to perform manual functions. Additionally, it’s common for the eyesight and hearing of elderly drivers to decline, which can lead to missing stop signs, oncoming vehicles, sirens, or pedestrians—especially at night.
  • Declining mental acuity. Driving is a complex task that requires quick, logical decisions, acute perception, and keen awareness at all times. Some elderly folks may experience decreased functioning in these areas, which can pose risks to other drivers.

Virginia Law on Elderly Drivers

From the age of 75 on, Virginia imposes special requirements on those who wish to keep their driving privileges in order to filter out those who may no longer operate a vehicle safely. These special requirements outline that:

  • Drivers aged 75 or older must renew their licenses every five years.
  • Drivers aged 80 or older must renew their licenses in person and pass a vision test.
  • Drivers aged 75 or older may be asked to pass written or road tests at the request of DMV personnel.
  • Elderly drivers may carry a restriction on their licenses, requiring them to wear corrective lenses while driving.

When You Need Trusted Legal Assistance

If you’ve been in a car accident with an elderly driver, you may be able to request an unsafe driver investigation or seek a license suspension or revocation. At Tavss Fletcher, we can help you understand your options and help you recover fair compensation for damages. To speak with a member of our team today, contact us by starting a live online chat on our website.