14 million Americans were involved in accidents with senior drivers this past year

Older drivers say giving up the keys is a family decision

Published: July 09, 2015 12:01 AM

Over the past year, 14 million Americans aged 18 to 64 were estimated to be involved in accidents caused by drivers aged 65 and over, according to a new Caring.com report. Among those accident victims, 18- to 29-year-olds were the most likely to be involved in a crash with an elderly driver.

Even though older drivers are involved in a large number of crashes, they have one of the lowest fatality rates, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (PDF). Seniors often self-regulate, choosing to drive during daylight hours and avoiding busy areas.

Despite those figures, it's the seniors themselves who think they pose a serious danger. While the survey reveals that most Americans under 65 are far more concerned with drivers who are drunk, teenaged, or distracted than those who are senior, respondents 65 or over feel that they are more of a threat behind the wheel than drivers who are intoxicated.

Most people under 65 are unwilling to talk to their parents about when it's time to stop driving; in fact, 40 percent said they'd rather discuss funeral arrangements with their parents. So who should start the discussion? Among respondents to the random, nationwide phone survey, 29 percent said they think a doctor is the best person to determine when it's time to stop driving, while 25 percent said it was a family decision and 23 percent thought the government or local department of motor vehicles should make the determination. Only 16 percent thought the seniors should decide for themselves. (Learn more about when it is time for seniors to retire their keys.)

Those findings fly in the face of what seniors want. Almost a third of seniors said they would prefer their family to determine when they stop driving, while 26 percent think they should make the decision themselves. About one in five would leave it up to their doctor or caretaker, and just 10 percent say the decision should be made by the government.

"No one wants to be the one to take away Mom or Dad’s keys, but sometimes it can be crucial for their safety,” said Andy Cohen, CEO of Caring.com, a website that provides support and referrals to those caring for the elderly. “Plus, many seniors would actually prefer to hear it from a family member than from a police officer on the road. There are numerous online resources that people can use to make the conversation go as smoothly as possible.”

Aaron Gold

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