Smart Cars Are Helping Our Senior Drivers Avoid Collisions

dreamstime_xs_29651212Vehicle Safety Features Allow Elders to Remain on the Road

A car is a necessity, especially in the spread-out suburban and rural areas of North Texas. Not being able to drive can cause someone to be home bound.

I think about this a little more now that I’m almost 62 — and driving much more cautiously. And our country is graying. However, smart cars help seniors remain safely on the road for many more years.

Already some smart features are helping all of us drive more safely.  For example, the beeping noise and camera screen can alert the driver to stop backing up before hitting an object. A blind-spot warning system can indicate a motorcycle, car or pedestrian in the peripheral. Pacing and braking systems can keep a car at a safe distance from the one in front and brake if the driver fails to respond.

These features are continually improving and becoming more cost-effective. I’m excited to see what’s in the pipeline. After 36 years of representing thousands of auto accident victims, I’m a big fan of anything that can improve roadway safety.  I blogged about this important topic here earlier this week.

Risks to Older Adult Drivers

More than 5,560 seniors were killed and 214,000 were injured in car wrecks in one recent year. Even healthy seniors may develop physical limitations that can increase their risks of an accident. Diminished eyesight and hearing can make it more difficult to see other cars or pedestrians or to judge their distance. Reaction time also slows down.

The problem is there is no set age when driving becomes dangerous. The risks go up as a demographic, but not necessarily for some individual seniors. An 80 year old may be perfectly fit to drive, while a 70 year old may not. The state of Texas makes no distinctions and barely demands proof of driving skill as we age.

When Is a Driver Too Old To Drive?

A law should not restrict driving for an older adult who is able to do so safely. Usually elderly people are good drivers — and often much more careful than the rest of us.

With more than 36 million licensed drivers who are older than 65 years, which ones should no longer drive and how does the law make this distinction?

Most Texans can renew their driver’s licenses by phone, by mail or online and must only make visit the Texas Department of Public Safety every 12 years.

Drivers who are 79 to 84 years old must renew their driver’s licenses in person every 6 years and meet additional requirements to ensure they are fit to drive. Drivers who are 85 and older must renew in person every two years. Personally, I think this age is too lenient.

All drivers who are 79 years and older must take a vision test each renewal time. Some older drivers may also require a driving test, if there are questions about ability to continue driving safely. A recent accident or a health condition may trigger the driving test requirement.

Protecting the Rights of Older Drivers

Berenson Injury Law has represented many senior clients over the years. Seniors commonly sustain more severe injuries in a car crash and have other considerations in recovery of damages like the effect of Medicare payments. Our law firm is compassionate toward our clients and aggressive in protecting their rights.

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