The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) announced that 4,377 drivers aged 70 or older have died in 2015 in a crash. That is a 16 percent increase from 1975. The IIHS reported that accidents caused by those aged between 70 and 74 increased rapidly, while drivers aged 85 or older are far more likely to sustain critical injuries.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that accidents caused by drivers aged 65 or older rose by 50 percent compared to 1999.
▶ Increasingly rising car accidents for the elderly
The Chino Police Department hinted that the recent accident caused by an 85-year-old Korean man who potentially had physical conditions that prohibited him from driving under normal circumstances.
The man, only identified by his last name Kwon, was backing his SUV out of a parking space when he sped up considerably and crashed into a crowd of six women, killing two in the process. Even after crashing into the women, Kwon drove 89 feet before hitting the wall of a property across the street.
Another Korean man who caused a similar accident in October 2015, only identified by his last name Kim, was found guilty in trial on March 8. He was assigned to 800 hours of community service and five years of probation. Kim was exiting the 60 freeway when he crashed into a truck on Seventh Avenue. He testified that he stepped on the gas pedal instead of the break after the initial crash, which led him to striking 18-year-old man and woman, both of whom died later.
On Dec. 29 last year, a Cadillac drove into a divider and fell off of a high-level road. The driver of that vehicle was reportedly an 89-year-old woman.
▶ The clampdown on the elderly’s driver’s license requirements
As car accidents for senior drivers continue to rise, the requirement for their rests are only getting stricter.
The Department of Motor Vehicles has a greater power than ever before to retrieve one’s driver’s license. A senior driver who violates traffic laws or causes accident will be due for an immediate retest or suspension of the license. The DMV and local authorities have already began prioritizing public safety above one’s right to drive a car.
A senior driver who caused an accident must carefully consider the possibility of dissipating health.
Drivers who are being retested for their license at age 65 or older must be examined based on their physical, vision, cognitive and mental abilities. A doctor’s note is required for those who violate traffic laws or cause an accident.
▶ Seniors must fully understand oneself before driving
It is important for elderly drivers to come to terms with the possibility of settling for a restricted driver’s license, which prohibits its bearer to only drive during daytime. It also requires the driver to avoid taking the freeway. The restricted driver’s license holders must also install additional side mirrors. They are also restricted from driving during the rush hour.
“You obviously can’t tell someone that he or she cannot drive simply because they’re old,” said Wilshire Insurance chief Jay Park. “The driver has to decide on his or her own objectively about whether or not the physical capacity is still there. If a driver is prone to sleepiness, slow decision making or small accidents, it’s probably better to use the public transportation.”
By Hyoungjae Kim