Older Driver Safety in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia

October 3, 2012

According to the Associated Press, older drivers are on the road more than ever before. Nearly 34 million drivers are 65 or older. By 2030, deferral estimates show there will be about 57 million, making up about a quarter of all licensed drivers.

Older drivers have the highest rate of deadly crashes per mile even though they don't drive as often as younger drivers. Measured by miles driven, older drivers crash rates begin to rise in their 70s and even more in their 80s, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Health Issues can also impair older drivers. Health issues such as: arthritis and dementia, slower reflexes and they also use multiple medications, which can impair their driving. On average, about 60% of seniors voluntarily cut back their driving. Most avoid driving at night, on interstates and during bad weather. Older drivers seem to have more difficulty with intersections, making left turns, and changing lanes and/or merging. This is due to their gradual decline in vision and reaction times that come with aging.

In the District of Columbia seniors are required to have more vision tests, are required to renew their licenses more often than younger drivers and starting at the age of 70, older drivers must submit a doctor's certification that they are healthy enough to drive every time they renew their licenses. In Maryland, the Motor Vehicle Administration requires all people, starting at the age of 40, to take eye exams, and in Virginia, starting at the age of 80, drivers must renew their license in person and also pass an eye exam.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration proposed a national guideline for older driver safety earlier this summer. The proposal recommends that every state needs a program to improve older driver safety, doctors should be protected from lawsuits id they report a possibly unsafe driver and driver's licenses should be renewed in person after a certain age. These recommendations would push states to become more consistent and have safer roads.