Though there are a variety of public transportation options in Virginia, driving is still an appropriate choice for many. Being able to transport oneself throughout the city efficiently has an extraordinary impact on the quality of life for an individual. As an individual gets older, his/her cognitive and physical abilities start to decline, and it becomes more difficult and more dangerous for that individual to operate a motor vehicle.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2018, it was estimated that there were more than 45 million licensed drivers that were 65 years of age and older. This has been almost a 38 percent increase in the number of older, licensed drivers since 2009. Older drivers (65 and older) have an increased probability of getting into an accident because of the decline in their abilities due to their age and medical complications.
Increase in Senior Citizen Fatalities
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that in 2018, more than 275,000 senior citizens were injured and about 7,000 were killed in car accidents. The CDC determined that once an older adult hits the age of 75, he/she is more likely to be involved in a fatal crash, and that number jumps when the adult hits 80 years old. Though older adults generally are more likely to wear a seat belt, drive when the road conditions are at their safest (i.e. in good weather and during the daytime), and are less likely to drive under the influence of alcohol and drugs, the failing of physical and cognitive abilities has had the greatest impact on an older driver’s ability to operate a motor vehicle safely.
Senior Driver Re-Evaluation Programs
Currently, the majority of states have set up special provisions and evaluations for older drivers so as to test their ability to continue operating a motor vehicle. In Virginia, there are special rules for drivers who are 75 years or older who want to renew their licenses. First, drivers must renew their licenses every five years instead of the standard eight years for drivers younger than 75. If a driver is 80 years of age or older, they are required to renew in person. Drivers who are 80-years-old and older must also pass a vision test conducted either by a DMV employee or by an outside eye doctor who must complete a customer vision report.
While Virginia does not require a retesting of the driver based on age alone, the law allows that a person’s physical and cognitive abilities and their driving qualifications will be reevaluated if there are reasonable grounds to believe that the driver is no longer fit to drive. Reasonable grounds are interpreted to be a specific driving incident or behavior that is reported or observed by a police officer, doctor, and/or family member or friend, which might make the reporter believe the driver is no longer capable of driving safely. The driver then may be subject to a few cognitive and physical tests, an interview, and possibly a driving test to assess the capabilities of the driver.
Signs that an Older Driver May Not Be Fit to Drive
The following are signs that may indicate that an older adult is no longer fit to operate a motor vehicle safely:
- Inability to obey traffic signs and requests
- Confusion about getting to a familiar location and familiar street disorientation
- A failure to stay in the line and be aware of other vehicles, pedestrians, and bicyclists
- An increase in traffic tickets
- Complaints from family members and friends about near misses, close calls, and distracted driving habits
- Slow reaction times while on the road
- Squinting and/or not responding to loud noises or road noises
Contact Our Office Today
If you or a loved one has suffered injuries in a crash caused by an elderly driver, contact a Virginia personal injury attorney from Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn. It is critical to remember that Virginia has placed a statute of limitations on how long victims have to file a claim for damages against those responsible for their injuries, so do not delay. Failure to file before that legal deadline could mean you lose any chance of ever filing your claim or getting justice against the person responsible for you or your loved one’s injuries.
Contact our office today at 800-752-0042 to set up a free and confidential case evaluation with one of our dedicated Virginia accident attorneys. You may be entitled to financial compensation for medical expenses, loss of income, pain and suffering, emotional anguish, permanent disability, scarring, and disfigurement. Call our office to find out how we can help.
An experienced personal injury attorney with dual licensure in Virginia and North Carolina, Eric Washburn received a B.B.A. in Finance from James Madison University—initially worked in the information technology field before obtaining his law degree from Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing, Michigan. Once an Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney in Danville, Va., Eric has been recognized by Super Lawyers Magazine as a “Rising Star” Super Lawyer in Virginia since 2014.