2/7/2012 9:43 AM ET|
Beware 'tsunami' of senior drivers
By the next decade, a quarter of drivers will be 65 or older, increasing road risks for everyone. Here's how to prepare yourself and the senior in your life.
Brace yourself for the "silver tsunami" that's expected to wash over our highways in coming years.
The Automobile Association of America is warning that, as baby boomers grow older, a wave of drivers with diminishing skills likely will create road dangers across the country. Quoting figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, the AAA says this silver tsunami of motorists age 65 or older will increase by 75% over the next two decades.
On average, people live seven to 10 years beyond their safe driving ability, according to Jake Nelson, the director of AAA Traffic Safety Advocacy and Research. The AAA points out that these senior drivers often continue to get behind the wheel despite the risks.
"In less than 10 years, one in four licensed drivers will be age 65 and older, which means that millions of American families will be working through this challenge," Nelson says.
AAA and the American Occupational Therapy Association offer these suggestions to anyone who knows an older driver:
- Conduct regular driving assessments. Every six months or so, ask the senior to take you for a drive so you can see his or her driving firsthand and note any changes.
- Schedule regular medical check-ups and eye exams. A complete exam can reveal physical conditions that affect driving. Qualified medical personnel can check an older driver's decision-making skills, reaction time, muscle strength and joint flexibility.
- Encourage regular exercise. A doctor can suggest a tailored workout routine to maintain overall health and well-being.
- Think about and discuss the gradual adjustments. Sometimes a few simple steps -- limiting driving to certain times of day, avoiding night driving or adding an extra-wide rearview mirror -- can help prolong a senior's time behind the wheel.
- Identify alternative modes of transportation. This should occur well before a senior's driving skills diminish.
For more advice, visit AAA's Senior Driving website.
Preparing for the possibility of more dangerous roads
With the predicted increase in less-skilled senior drivers over the next two decades, it may be prudent for motorists to evaluate their car insurance coverage, says Tully Lehman, a spokesman for the Insurance Information Network of California.
The IINC and the Insurance Information Institute recommend adequate liability coverage -- including bodily injury and property damage -- that will protect the driver and his or her assets if there's an accident. As a starting point, the III suggests at least $100,000 of bodily injury coverage per person and $300,000 per accident. Adding $50,000 in property damage coverage is also a smart move.
In addition, motorists should have adequate protection if they're hit by an uninsured or underinsured driver, says Jeanne M. Salvatore, the senior vice president and a consumer spokeswoman for the III.
Some states already require drivers to carry underinsured motorist coverage, but Salvatore advises discussing your policy with an agent just to make sure you have the coverage you need.
"Most people don't think about the uninsured motorist or underinsured motorist coverage portion of their policy until they're the victim of a hit-and-run accident, or are involved in a crash with a driver who either doesn't have auto insurance or has very minimal insurance," Salvatore says.
She explains that UM coverage will reimburse you, a member of your family or a designated driver for bodily injuries caused by an uninsured motorist or a hit-and-run driver. UIM comes into play when an at-fault driver has insufficient insurance coverage to pay for your loss. UIM also provides coverage if you're hit by a car as a pedestrian.
Another good idea is to become a better defensive driver through more road awareness and classes designed to improve skills. As a bonus, many insurers offer rate discounts for passing such courses. Geico, for example, will trim as much as 10% from a premium, according to the company's website.
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Granted, I have been behind many a senior citizen doing less than the speed limit, but on the other hand I cannot tell you the amount of time I have been behind, or beside someone that is so intent on their phone that they forget they are in a car. None of these have been senior citizens.
And don't even get me started on soccer Moms plowing their way through traffic. The most problems I've seen out there are in the twenty and thirty year old age group...horrific drivers and I do watch out for them.
I believe EVERYONE should be tested regularly...age is not the factor...driving skills and phones are.
How about Youth-texting while driving?
Who is the most dangerous?
AAA implies that senior drivers are a dangerous threat to highway safety, but yet they haven't touched the subject of younger drivers under 40 texting and other distracted driving. NHTSA is more concerned about distracted driving than seniors on the road. It's true that most drivers over 80 pose a greater risk, but not any more than youngsters texting or chatting while doing 80 MPH. Especially in California where a young college student (21) is facing felony manslaughter for slamming into the rear of a car stopped in traffic. She was doing 80 MPH while on her cell phone according to Orange County authorities. I haven't seen any seniors texting yet and the worse problem I see out there is a senior doing 60 MPH in the fast lane while traffic is moving at 70+.
AAA should be careful about pointing a finger at seniors over 65, especially baby boomers who generate 50% of there revenues.
AAA also forgets that seniors over 65 still drive busses, trains, ships and even planes. There is no hard evidence they pose a greater danger to safety. In fact, many of those seniors can pass a medical and a drug test much faster than a lot of youngsters out there, especially those who are so obese and can't even bend over to retrieve their seat belt. AAA hasn't done their homework.
You know, it seems to me those of us from the Baby Boomer generation have borne the brunt of scorn and ridicule for most of our lives. First of all, there were the hippies, protestors, flower children, druggies, etc, that we were accused of being. Then, we were considered too lenient in raising our children because we taught them it's ok to speak your mind (just do it respectfully). Then, we're keeping the good jobs from the next generation, we won't get out of their way fast enough. Next, we're told we are going to use up all the Social Security and Medicare benefits so the younger generations won't have anything to fall back on when they get old enough to retire. Now, we're told we're too old to drive. Does the writer even give consideration to the fact that most people live a very long time after 65 and are still active and healthy? Seriously...give us a break! Our generation has paid more into the system for Social Security and Medicare than anyone, we have a RIGHT to expect the money we've paid all these years will be available for us. We have a RIGHT to expect we are perfectly capable of driving safely as long as we are healthy, particularly since we have to work longer than the generations who came before us. Most of us are providing care and support for our parents, along with the boomerang children and grandchildren. Does the writer want to tackle the younger generations' bad driving habits in the same type of article? In the past 3 days, I've been nearly hit 6 times by other drivers because they didn't see me because they were talking on the phone. One person made a right turn from the middle lane right in front of me. These were all drivers who looked to be in their 20s or 30s. This doesn't even come close to the number of young people at work who've nearly run over me while walking and talking on their cell phone. I've managed to avoid all these "accidents" because MY reflexes enabled me to stop in time, not because the other person did anything to avoid me.
Seniors drivers huh? You mean all those seniors now forced to work longer than their parents? And wasn't it just 6 years ago, all those Republican young pups were so hot to raise the Social Security eligibility age just before they crashed the economy for seniors?
So they want seniors to work until age 70. They don't want to spend money on transit in any way, shape or form but seniors are supposed to flap their wings to travel to work every day until they are dead at their desks at age 70. You've got to hand it to the young punks out there. They sit behind gas guzzlers, buy 5-bedroom McMansion they can't afford and then text while they drive.
It isn't the seniors we need to worry about. Check the number of traffic accidents caused by soccer mobile Mommies with 2 kiddies and a TV set in their vehicles, the overindulged trophy kids driving McMommy or McDaddy's Tundra SUV or the "Get out of my way. I'm a wannabee CEO" yuppies? Anyone else fed up with the 40 to 50 something Whiner/Complainer Generation?
These idiots drive at speeds that kill. Seniors aren't in a breakneck hurry to die. That's the difference. Enough with the complaining. Do the young snots need a reminder that we married younger, took on responsibility younger and didn't live with our parents till age 30 or beg babysitting from them either like this Whiner/Complainer Generation of mock style bullies of youth? Must be time to dump the entire load on this Whiner/Complainer bunch. It's certainly time they took their maturity more seriously.
One thing in life that no one can aviod is becoming an older driver(if you live long enough)---so keep on believing all the BS you read and watch on TV etc...
1- The world would colapse in the year 2000???
2- The end of mankind Dec. 2012???
So drive on old people and enjoy life while you can.
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