Informational Essay Currently there is an extremely important issue that the public should understand more about due to its enormous impact on many citizens. This issue pertains to the safety concern surrounding the elderly while operating a motor vehicle past the age of 70 years old. This debate whether old people should be allowed to drive is often brought up by younger drivers, the reality is that all able bodied people who are physically and mentally healthy should be able to drive but as we grow older it is inevitable that our health will decrease.
There are many different arguments on this subject and seems to be a widely spoken debate amongst road users regarding each of their opinions on the possible changes to be made addressing this concern. We can examine the argument by first generally summarizing each side of the argument and their position with supporting evidence of each sides common claims. One of the most common claims made by advocates for the elderly drivers are as following even though the initial licensing procedures vary greatly in the United States.
However, those who tend to favor the allowance of elderly citizens to drive on their own, likely believe it is an insult to senior citizens ability to drive and do not support the newly suggested regulations in order for any citizen over the age of 70 to be considered for their license renewal. Most states generally allow license renewal if there are no suspensions on the driver’s license and may require appearing in person. Aside from the general requirements previously stated there are two aspects of the license renewal process that seem to vary substantially among states.
Which are the length of time between renewals as well as some additional requirements that may possibly be imposed on older motor vehicle operators. Such legal requirements currently exist in 28 states as well as the District of Columbia who, specifically states that an applicant shall not be required to retake the written exam or road test based solely on advanced age. This regulation is imperative in exemplifying current licensing laws in the other states and their positions held regarding this matter. Some of the more southern states even allow certain privileges or rewards for elderly drivers.
For instance, in both Oklahoma and Tennessee, the license renewal fees are reduced for drivers that are 60 years of age or older. Tennessee in particular also permits current drivers past the age of 65 and over to retain a driver’s license which will be indefinitely valid without an expiration date. The laws created by these states contribute to the increase in older drivers and supports their rights. The ability to drive represents a freedom and independence from relying on anyone else, and allows us to feel self-sufficient and capable.
It is the belief of many that older drivers should be allowed to drive without any verification of his/her competency and that the elderly should be able to operate a vehicle independently at their own discretion on the road and renew their driver’s license, without first screening for safety requirements. A survey conducted on www. surveycentral. org, showed a 76. 5% majority of those surveyed in a research study voted that older people should be able to drive if they can pass a driving test.
The parties who wish to not enforce further driving laws pertaining to elderly people also believe that a loss of mobility to an elderly person tends to diminish their sense of independence and self-confidence leaving them feeling stranded or alone and ultimately leads to a decrease in the overall quality of life. The author Liisa Hakamies-Blomqvist in her essay “Older Road Users” supports this position with statistical evidence and research when she reports the following statement: “Older drivers do not have a higher accident risk than others.
They do however have a higher risk of being injured or killed in accidents because of with their age there is increasing physical frailty”( Hakamies-Blomqvist, 1997). The license renewal of the elder drivers may pose a problem among older citizens who will soon be approaching this age of evaluation, that are not likely to be cohesive with this proposal for various reasons. The fact that they are soon approaching this period in their life as they are getting older, and certain rights are undoubtedly being taken away from them with mandatory evaluations/examinations can be seen as a human rights issues.
However, the main concern held in this matter lies in the safety and well-being of all vehicles including passengers and drivers. According to a recent study by Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, based on data from 1999-2004 displays statistics to support the claim that laws should be enforced and can be seen in the following surprising fatality rates for drivers: “Which begin to climb after age 65, and from ages 75 to 84, the rate of about three deaths per 100 million miles driven is equal to the death rate of teenage drivers.
Even worse for drivers 85 and older, the fatality rate skyrockets to nearly four times higher than that for teens” (AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 2004). Various statistics show similar results when comparing fatalities and crash rates involving elderly drivers and is a concern for many people. This concern is exemplified by the following statement by Barbara Harsha, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association. It’s a huge problem, and we really don’t have any solutions to it yet,” “We need to keep moving on it and try to find solutions as quickly as possible”(Harsha, 2004). This is a continuing problem and will only increase in severity as the boom of newly aged senior citizens grows rapidly, and will inevitably be driving on the road with us. This seems like an issue we should be addressing as citizens, however we haven’t been able to come up with any compromise or solution to resolve this problem as of yet.
As far as seeing a visible improvement in statistics from any changes made in this effort seem that the only measure scientifically proven to lower the rate of fatal motor vehicle accidents involving elderly drivers is to require the seniors to appear at motor vehicle departments in person to renew their licenses. Research demonstrates that senior citizens who drive are involved in more fatal car accidents than any other driving age group. However, while senior drivers do pose a risk, losing the right to drive may also possibly lead to isolation or depression.
Even though many states have implemented various restrictions on senior drivers in an attempt to fix the problem, there have been no successful results overall regarding this issue and so far all attempts seem to be inadequate to fully address the issue and resolve this situation. Therefore, the current challenge that seems to be facing the community regarding transportation safety is how to provide the elderly with the easy mobility that they are used to having, while at the same time focusing on safety as a main priority.