Points To Ponder: Elderly Drivers and Auto Accidents in Washington

At what point should senior citizens stop driving?

It is common to hear a story about a young driver as the cause in a car accident. The teenagers' lack of experience often takes a hit. While this can be alarming, what about the opposite of the spectrum - elderly drivers. Although they have years of driving under their belt, they are an age group that often times escapes the public eye for irresponsible driving habits.

There is no doubt that those in the older age group deserve respect and the opportunity to be independent on the road, as long as they are doing so safely and responsibly. How does one judge if they are capable of upholding these expectations?

Elderly Driver Accident Statistics

The elderly generally have slower reflexes, decreasing awareness of surroundings and poor vision. However, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety show that drivers between the age group of 64 and 69 years old are the safest drivers on the road. On the other hand, senior drivers account for the highest crash rates per mile driven.

Although numbers have grown, a study in 2008 that was conducted by an insurance institute shows that fewer elderly people were involved in fatal collisions from 1997 to 2006. This could be due to the improved health of seniors and making more responsible decisions such as avoiding night time driving and busy times of the day.

Age is not always the best measure of skills on the road, so the question stands, is overall health more important than age? It is very important that all drivers are skilled and show appropriate reflexes, which may not always correlate with age.

Senior Citizen Drivers in Washington State

In Washington, all drivers must renew their license every 5 years, including elderly drivers. Drivers at age 65 or older, can only renew their license in person and must take a vision test. A written and/or road test will be given if warranted by a vision, health or medical screening. Older drivers do not have any driving restrictions in Washington State.

Do you think there should be rules specific to senior drivers?  Tell us what you think!