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Elderly drivers may be at increased risk for car accidents

When people age, they experience certain physical and psychological changes that may influence their ability to operate a vehicle. As a way to provide protection for other motorists on the road, several states have enacted laws, such as license renewal policies, which address the limitations of elderly drivers. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were over 40 million drivers over the age of 65 years on the road in 2015.  Research shows that when drivers reach the age of 70 years, the risk for becoming involved in a fatal accident increases and reaches a peak at 85 years old.

In Maryland, elderly drivers are not required to renew their driver’s licenses any more frequently than other drivers, which is every 8 years, according to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety. Once drivers hit 40 years of age, they must have a vision test every time they renew their licenses.

Some people argue that elderly drivers should have their vision tested more often, as peoples’ eyesight begins to decline as they age. The ability to accommodate to see critical driving signs and nighttime vision becomes compromised as people age. People over the age of 60 years old are at greater risk of developing macular degeneration, cataracts, dry eye, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and retinal detachment. Furthermore, they may have difficulties adapting to bright headlights and sunlight glare. Changes in depth perception can also cause issues as it may be hard to judge the distance and speed of oncoming vehicles when people get older. This may cause older drivers to pull out in front of people and cause a tragic car accident. 

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