News360 Perspective


360° Perspective: Aging Drivers

Posted at 9:29 PM, Jan 23, 2020

COLORADO SPRINGS — In this 360° Perspective we're talking older drivers and whether there is a time for them to hang up the keys. Colorado State Patrol recently reported older drivers were involved in 129 deadly crashes in 2018.

The population of older drivers is growing fast, and aging baby boomers make up the fastest growing demographic on American roadways.

There are some additional rules for drivers 65 and older. They have to renew their licenses every ten years like everyone else, but they have to physically go into the DMV every other renewal.

Once there, a series of questions determines if a driving test is necessary. Family members, doctors or police can also request a test but there's no age where you have to retake it.

Some people would like to see more done to make sure seniors aren't posing a danger on the roads, like Chris Spanos, whose father was killed in an accident caused by an 82-year-old driver.

"In my opinion she shouldn't have been on the road. Shortly after she was driving again, I was angry about that," Spanos said.

Spanos has been advocating for more testing of older drivers ever since. He'd like them to have more driving tests, written tests, eye tests and physically go to the DMV more often.

One professor says losing the car keys can have a huge impact on a senior's quality of life.

Dr. Carolyn DiGuisppi of CU Public Health has been studying older drivers for years. She says as people age their mobility, sight and even reaction times decrease. She says there's a certain pride that comes with driving and older drivers are less likely to use cabs or ride shares.

"Particularly among men, driving is somewhat associated with how you view yourself," Dr. DiGuisppi said, "Independence is probably the biggest concern for older drivers."

AAA data shows that 65 and up are not the riskiest drivers. Their data shows there were 200,000 crashes nationwide in 2016 involving drivers over 65, and 3,500 were deadly. The idea of additional testing is something AAA says many older drivers agree with.

"80 percent of drivers over the age of 75 years think that drivers their exact age should have to go through a medical test before they can renew their drivers license," spokesperson Skyler McKinley said.

Others say the drivers are safe and it's just a stereotype. Angela Cortez with AARP Colorado says it's all a matter of perception, and older drivers usually decrease driving on their own, limiting themselves to avoid traffic. Cortez says they aren't the most dangerous on the roads.

"They're nowhere near younger adults, especially younger males, that's really the younger largest group of accidents that result in fatalities," Cortez said.

AARP offers refresher courses for older drivers which is helpful because cars and roads are constantly changing. They also have training for families on how to talk to their loved ones about not driving.

Colorado laws do not determine when is the right time to hang up the car keys.

Everyone in the story agreed on two things- there will be a time to give up driving, but there's not one age to do it.

What do you think? Sound off on our Facebook pages ElizabethWattsNews and KOAA5.

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