The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Senior Outlook

April 7, 2010

When is someone too old to drive?

It may be one of the most delicate topics a health professional can broach with an elderly patient — not sex, or even end-of-life choices, but driving.

Specifically, whether the patient’s physical and/or mental condition have reached a point where it’s no longer safe to drive.

The decision to give up the keys has major implications for the senior driver and the family and it is also a matter of public safety.

The rate of three fatalities per 100 million miles driven among drivers ages 75 to 84 is on par with that for teenagers; for drivers 85 and older, the fatality rate is four times higher than for teens.

People 65 and older currently make up 13 percent of the population, but account for 15 percent of both licensed drivers and traffic fatalities, according to statistics compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The number of senior drivers continues to grow. The U.S. Census projects there will be 53 million Americans over 65 by the end of this decade, and 40 million will be licensed drivers.

By the time all baby boomers are looking back at 65, there will be 70 million American seniors — and some traffic-safety experts predict they’ll be behind the wheel in 25 percent of fatal traffic accidents.

Dangerous as driving may be, studies also suggest that giving up the keys has serious consequences for seniors’ health.

According to the National Institute on Aging, about 600,000 people 70 and older stop driving each year. AARP surveys show that a third of older non-drivers complain of feeling isolated from other people, compared to 19 percent of older drivers.

A study published last year in The Journals of Gerontology found that seniors who stopped driving were four to six times more likely to die within the next three years than seniors who continued to drive.

Text Only
Senior Outlook
Facebook
Poll

A Missouri Senate committee has endorsed a 1-cent sales tax increase to fund transportation projects. The proposed constitutional amendment passed the House earlier this month. If passed by the full Senate, the measure would head to the November ballot for voter approval. Would you vote in favor of it?

Yes.
No.
     View Results
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
NDN Video
Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Calif. Investigators Re-construct Fatal Bus Cras Mayor Rob Ford Launches Re-election Campaign Appellate Court Hears Okla. Gay Marriage Case