An 81-year-old Kansas woman caused serious injuries recently when she lost control of her vehicle. Joplin Globe reports the 81 year old struck a cookie sales booth that had been set up in front of a Dollar Store. One young Girl Scout was seriously injured in the incident and two adult troop leaders also sustained minor injuries as a result of the collision. One of the mothers attempted to pull the young girl out of the way of the oncoming SUV but she got hit by the vehicle before she was able to reach the child. The child was flown to Children’s Mercy Hospital for emergency treatment.
The incident is one of many car accidents in which senior drivers are involved in each year. Seniors are disproportionately likely to die in motor vehicle accidents. They can present not only a risk to themselves but, as this accident shows, also a danger to others.
It is very important that older drivers and their family members monitor a senior’s condition carefully in order to determine if there are any health issues or mental impairments which could prevent the senior from continuing to operate his or her vehicle in a safe manner.
The Dangers of Senior Drivers in Kansas City
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) provides some troubling details about the tremendous risks faced by seniors who drive for longer than it is safe to do so. Senior drivers have higher death rates than any demographic group, other than very young teen drivers who have just started to drive.
Although seniors are the demographic least likely to get into drunk driving crashes, the natural physical and mental declines which go along with aging – coupled with the added risk of developing medical conditions that affect driving abilities – can make seniors very dangerous on the roads.
Seniors consistently account for a small percentage of drivers on roadways throughout Kansas and across the United States. However, despite the small percentage of senior drivers on roadways, these drivers are involved in a disproportionately high number of fatal accidents.
In some states, there are laws that are aimed at making sure seniors cannot renew their license if they have become unable to drive safely. Seniors may have to undergo road tests, for example, or may have to renew their licenses in person instead of online or by mail. Unfortunately, Kansas does not have any of these reqiurements.
The only requirement imposed in Kansas for senior drivers that differs from other motorists is accelerated renewal rules. Kansas seniors aged 65 and older have to renew their license every four years, as compared with every six for other motorists. This requirement may not be enough to keep dangerous seniors off the roads. As a result, it is up to older people and their families to make sure they make smart choices about when it is time to stop driving.