Plenty of people talk about it, but not usually openly. That’s because when it comes to elderly people and driving, the subject is a touchy one. And it’s also growing in importance, as nearly 50 million Americans older than 65 will be eligible for a driver’s license by 2020.
A new Florida Today article investigates the topic, pointing first to the story of 93-year-old Grace Scafati who got disoriented while driving in Melbourne, Florida, in May 2004, pulled over, and hours later died of a heat stroke in her car.
Florida Today asks: “Scafati’s death and other more recent incidents involving older drivers illustrate the question being asked with greater urgency as the first wave of the nation’s 76 million baby boomers turns 65 this year: Is there a certain age at which drivers should hang up the keys? And should the state play a bigger role in making that assessment?
“Or is one’s ability to drive safely, as is the aging process, a very individual matter—something to be judged on one’s driving record and health, not an ageist stereotype of a tiny, white-haired woman at the steering wheel of a huge car going 40 mph on Interstate 95?”
Data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety indicates that the number of crashes per mile begins to increase once a driver turns 70, and then increases even moreso when he or she turns 80. Elderly drivers, however, are not the drivers most likely to crash. Teenaged drivers still lay claim to that category.
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