Elderly Drivers

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Recent studies show that senior citizens are the fastest growing population of drivers. They fall second behind teens with the highest number of traffic accident fatalities. So when is it time to quit driving?
That's a question many seniors face.

61 year old Stanley Antrobus, is a volunteer for RSVP, which provides transportation for senior citizens who can't get around on their own. Stanley drives seniors to the store and the doctor. A growing number of the elderly,usually considered 70 and older, is choosing not to drive due to age related illness coupled with a decline in physical and mental abilities. Stanley still feels completely confident in his driving abilities, but knows others may not be.

" I always watch the speed. As long as I know I can see, I'll drive," said Antrobus.

In fact, vision is a big problem for senior motorists. Many have trouble seeing traffic signs and lights.

" Many older drivers have cataracts, which increase sensitivity to glare, a particular problem at night. Reflexes tend to slow down," said Dave Willis, a researcher for the Texas Transportation Institute.

Willis also worked for AAA for years. He has found that elderly drivers are more likely to get seriously injured or killed in a collision because they are more fragile. He also says studies show seniors to be more easily distracted, much like young drivers.

" Older drivers also tend to have problems in complex driving situations, at intersections for example," said Willis.

Many seniors may have a hard time accepting when it's their time to rely on others to do the driving for them.

" There are some drivers, for whatever reason, that don't recognize their limitations and continue to drive when they shouldn't be driving," said Willis.

But Stanley says when the time comes for him to stop driving, he'll accept it.

" I hope it never does, but I believe when it does, I'll just stop driving," said Antrobus.

AARP offers the 55 Alive Senior driving course.
For more information call 731- 1231. Triple A offers some useful tips to senior drivers. Visit the featured links section of our website for more information.