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Elderly Driving

               

 

Elderly Driving and AAA's Missouri Fitness to Drive

An interesting report done by AAA regarding Missouriís Fitness to Drive and Voluntary Reporting Law results, http://www.aaafoundation.org/pdf/MedicalFitnesstoDriveFS.pdf

Starting in 1999, Missouri has a legal process whereby law enforcement, doctors, and family members could report an unsafe driver. 

The study looked at the 4100 individuals reported under this program from the years 2001 to 2005:

Approximately half voluntarily surrendered their license or did not see their physician and thus their license was quickly revoked.  Of the half that did see their physician, most were deemed unsafe to drive.  Only 3.5% continued to hold a license to drive.  Thatís worth repeating, only 3.5% of the individuals reported unsafe to drive, continued to hold valid licenses to drive after going through any required medical review and on-road driving test.  The report presents the program as a bit of a failure, not in the sense that it isnít taking elderly drivers who are unsafe off the road.  Rather the program was intended to give medical personnel and family the tool for having their elderly driver evaluated and if necessary, removing of driving privileges.  So itís looked on as somewhat of a failure when police and licensing personnel are the ones who do the majority of the reporting of elderly drivers under the system.        

Some inferences from the report:

         A lot of elderly people hold licenses that really shouldnít be, they are unsafe.

         A lot of family members and doctors either arenít thinking about the elderly personís ability to drive safely or are ignoring the warning signs and arenít doing anything about it.

o   Of those reported, 30% were by police, 27% by licensing personnel, 20% by physicians, and 16% by family members

o   7 out of every 8 reports by police were made following a crash or safety violation. 

         Reported drivers have an average age of 80.  Half were involved in at least one crash in the past 13 years and 2/3 of these crashes happened within 6 months of being reported.   

         Almost half have an indication of dementia in their medical history.    

 

 

 

     

 

 

Key Facts About Elderly Driving:

  1. Motor vehicle injuries are the leading cause of injury related deaths among 65-74 year old.

  2. After falls, motor vehicle injuries are the second leading cause of injury-related deaths among 75-84 year olds.

  3. Every year over 65, the chances of being involved in a left turn crash go up 8%.

Older drivers are driving longer distances. 

Some older adults will need to stop driving.

Driving behavior is self-regulated by many older drivers.

Age and disease related physical and/or mental changes contribute to the crash rate for older drivers

Physicians and family members have a large influence on the older personís decision to modify or stop driving.  They can also help the person maintain their ability to drive safely.

     

 

Medical conditions that may affect someoneís ability to safely operate a motor vehicle.

Seizures

Neurologic disorders ( Parkinson, dementia, alcoholic dementia, various other neurodegenerative

disorders)

Vision

Cardiovascular Disorder

Diabetes

Cognitive impairments (stroke, head injury, dementia, etc.)

Impairments of limbs, back or neck (CP, stroke, injury, etc.)

Psychiatric disorders

Substance disorders

If you have any of the above medical conditions, this does not mean that you should not and cannot drive. However, if someone does have these conditions, they may have progressed to a stage where the person would not be safe to operate a motor vehicle OR would require the condition to be properly controlled along with adaptive equipment, license restrictions and/or additional training to continue to drive safely. 

The DMV will look to the treating physician to make a recommendation as to their clientís ability to safely drive.   

Restrictions that are commonly placed on a driverís license to allow a person to continue to drive:

The following should be looked at and assessed with regard to the older personís ability to drive safely:

 

 

 

    

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