Age a contributing factor to danger on the road

A 100-year-old man backed his car onto the sidewalk and hit 11 people in Los Angeles in August, one week away from his 101st birthday. The driver hit nine children in the process of running over the sidewalk; he claimed that his brakes failed.

When elderly people get to a certain age they become a danger to society while driving.

It’s not that anyone wants to take away their driver’s licenses because of ageism, it’s that it is medically demonstrated that as someone ages, their physical ability to drive decreases.

For example, an 86-year-old man mistakenly stepped on the gas pedal of his car instead of the brake and then panicked and plowed into an open-air market in Santa Monica in 2003. Ten people were killed and 63 were injured.

The question people should be asking is whether or not the risk of having someone over the age of 70 is worth the lives of others.

NIHSeniorHealth.gov, run by the National Institute on Aging, said crashes from the elderly increase after age 75. When adults get older, their vision, hearing and health conditions can affect how well they drive.

Understanding this, it’s important we make sure seniors are safe behind the wheel.

We need to make sure an elderly person driving is tested every three to five years.

According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, people over the age of 70 can only renew their driver’s license in person.

They also must take an additional driving test if they fail a vision exam.  As their hearing, visual, and physical abilities decline, they have trouble making left turns, changing lanes, and navigating through intersections.

Of course there are threats to those on the road in every age group, which is why the DMV and insurance companies make polices and driving regulations to counteract most of these situations.

The person who should be deciding whether or not seniors should be on the road is their doctor. They can test all the accuracy of their abilities that are needed to safely operate a car.

For many seniors there are other options when it comes to transportation.

If walking to grocery stores or the bank is too far, public transportation is also available. If family is local, it makes sense that they would be willing to help as well when they can.

Driving a car is a dangerous task and requires a lot of attention. If one cannot do this, and can’t react quickly to something on the road, he or she should not be on the road in the first place.  It can be comparable to someone who is driving who has had one too many alcoholic beverages.

That’s not to say the elderly should have their driver’s licenses revoked, they should just prove that they’re still able to take on the huge responsibility that is driving a motor vehicle. It’s understandable that people believe that they should be able to drive at any age.

However, just like someone who has been drinking, they should be asking themselves, “Is it responsible for me to be behind the wheel?” If that’s not something they can answer themselves, their doctor’s visit or a driver’s test are in order.

We wouldn’t let a driver on the road if we knew that person was drunk, so we shouldn’t allow an older person to get behind the wheel if he or she knew they aren’t physically well enough to drive.

About Bevi Edlund

Bevi is a news assistant at the Daily Titan.