How Old is Too Old to Drive?

CHP Grant Focuses on Safe Senior Driving

With people living longer, the population of senior drivers out on the roads is growing.  With the support of a year-long federal grant through the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS), under the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the California Highway Patrol (CHP) is working to help older drivers maintain their independence through driving a vehicle for as long as safely possible.  The grant is entitled Keeping Everyone Safe (KEYS), and through its funding, the agency will promote the traffic safety program, Age Well, Drive Smart, which emphasizes road safety and mobility for the senior population of California.

What is the Maximum Driving Age in California?

California does not have a maximum driving age, however, drivers aged 70 years and older must renew their licenses in person at a DMV office.  Drivers in this age group are required to pass a written exam as well as the vision test.  With the COVID-19 restrictions, this requirement was suspended for a limited period of time, and seniors have been able to renew their licenses online.

The Age Well, Drive Smart Program

Given that there is no maximum driving age, the Age Well, Drive Smart program is designed to reduce the frequency of accidents caused by drivers aged 65 and older that result in injuries and fatalities.  The campaign will focus on promoting state driving laws and safe driving practices.  The curriculum will also address both the mental and physical changes that come with aging that may have a negative effect on driving skills.  The campaign will offer potential corrective options for those detrimental changes.

The CHP Commissioner, Warren Stanley, points out that although there is valuable driving experience gained as a person ages, that can sometimes be offset by new challenges presented.  The intention of the Age Well, Drive Smart program is to help California’s older drivers evaluate their own driving abilities and identify ways to improve them.

Over the next 12 months, CHP Area Offices will be holding Age Well, Drive Smart classes.  Because of the pandemic, these classes may now be available online.

Watch the YouTube video of one of the Age Well, Drive Smart classes put on by the CHP last year.

The Aging Population on the Roads

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in 2017, there were nearly 44 million legally licensed drivers at least 65 years of age in the United States. That number represents a 63% increase from 1999.  Driving helps to keep older individuals mobile and independent. Those benefits should be weighed against the increased risk of being injured or killed in an automobile accident as drivers age. Programs such as Age Well, Drive Smart seek to mitigate the risks.

Do Old People Cause More Accidents?

Nearly 7,700 adults aged 65+ were killed in car crashes in 2017, according to the CDC.  In addition, more than 250,000 required emergency room treatment for injuries sustained in auto accidents.  Those numbers calculate to the sobering statistic of approximately 20 seniors being killed with an additional 700 suffering injuries in motor vehicle accidents each year.

As we age, vision and cognitive functioning often decline.  Physical changes can also occur.  These areas of reduced function can negatively affect one’s driving ability unless they are appropriately compensated for.  

Which Drivers Are Most at Risk?

Drivers aged 75+ are more likely to be killed in an automobile accident than drivers aged 35-54. This is in part due to increased vulnerability to injuries.

Males across all age groups have significantly higher fatality rates than females.

Roseville Personal Injury Attorney

Hello, and thank you for reading our exploration of the question: How Old is Too Old to Drive?  I’m Ed Smith, a personal injury attorney in Roseville, California. For more than 38 years, I have helped injured Roseville and Sacramento residents with their legal claims against negligent drivers.  Reach out to one of our case managers or injury attorneys for compassionate, free, and friendly advice.  Our phone numbers are (916) 921-6400 local and (800) 404-5400 toll-free.  You may also contact us online.

Photo Attribution: https://pixabay.com/photos/automobile-lady-car-road-steering-1386213/

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