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The January 2019 car accident involving England’s Prince Philip, the husband of Queen Elizabeth II, has raised questions about whether people should be required to stop driving after a certain age.
According to reports, the Prince was shaken up but uninjured in the two-car crash. However, one of the two women in the other vehicle was hurt. Fortunately, a young child who was also in the vehicle the Prince’s car struck was uninjured.
The accident also received increased scrutiny when reports surfaced that the Prince was spotted back behind the wheel just days after the accident and that he wasn’t wearing a seat belt. Reports state that police stopped him and gave him a warning for driving without a seat belt.
How Old Is Too Old to Drive?
According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 83 percent of older drivers say they have never talked with a doctor or family member about hanging up their keys. These drivers say they have never discussed their driving abilities.
Among the 15 percent who say they have talked about driving, they report they did so after being involved in an auto accident or getting stopped for violating a traffic law.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety also reports that over 200,000 motorists age 65 and older were hurt in car accidents in 2016. During the same year, more than 3,500 people in the same age group were killed in car accidents.
While these statistics don’t mean that everyone over a certain age should automatically stop driving, experts say it’s important for everyone to continuously assess their safety behind the wheel as they get older.
According to one doctor AAA spoke with, “This research shows that older drivers can be hesitant to initiate conversations about their driving capabilities, so it is important that families encourage them to talk early and often about their future behind the wheel. With early discussion and proper planning, elderly drivers may extend their time on the road.”
Talking with Family About Driving and Age
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety offers tips for discussing driving safety with older family members. Understandably, many people worry about losing their independence if they’re forced to stop driving.
However, it’s important to identify potential problems, such as a health concern, before someone is involved in a motor vehicle accident that injures an older loved one, other motorists or people on the road.
Tips for talking about driving with an older family member or loved one include:
- Talk About It Early – Experts say it’s important to discuss driving before an accident happens. Planning ahead can help everyone make arrangements for the loved one to get around when they stop driving. For example, relatives can take turns giving a senior family member rides to appointments or errands. If you delay having these conversations, you could end up putting your older loved one and other drivers and pedestrians in danger.
- Don’t Generalize – Not everyone over a specific age needs to stop driving. Many people are perfectly healthy and capable of driving as they go through retirement. Experts say it’s important to approach an older person’s ability to drive on a case by case basis rather than making assumptions based on age alone. Even if an older loved one is starting to have trouble behind the wheel, it could be something as simple as adjusting their glasses prescription. Having context of the situation is why it’s important to have honest discussions about driving safety with doctors and family members.
- Talk One on One – It’s probably a bad idea to gather the whole family together when you speak to an older loved one about driving. Instead, speak one on one with your older parent or senior loved one. This thoughtfulness can help you avoid making the other person feel like the discussion is a confrontation.
- Make a Retirement Driving Plan – Part of planning for the future can include making a plan that helps your loved one stay safe behind the wheel — and also gives them an idea of what to expect when they’re ready to stop driving. A plan like this might include moving to a neighborhood with plenty of walking paths and stores that are within walking or biking distance. This way, the person has access to stores and services without having to worry about getting behind the wheel.
Experts say it’s also important to make a plan that ensures the older person can stay on the road safely for as long as possible, as research has shown that people who stop driving are two times more likely to experience depression and five times more likely to enter a nursing home compared to people who still drive.
Each person is different, and it’s important to create solutions that are tailored to the individual’s needs, abilities and wishes while also considering the risks that an elderly driver may cause an accident that injures another motorist on the road. If you’ve been injured in a motor vehicle accident, contact an NYC auto accident lawyer as soon as possible. If you’re looking for the top accident lawyer in New York City, get in touch with attorney Jonathan C. Reiter in Manhattan today.
Manhattan Auto Accident Attorney Jonathan C. Reiter
Prior results cannot and do not guarantee or predict a similar outcome with respect to any future case. Recoveries always depend upon the facts and circumstances of each case, the injuries suffered, damages incurred, and the responsibility of those involved.