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How old is too old to drive?

On Saturday, March 24th, 95-year old Lakewood resident, Raymond Gillick drove into oncoming traffic and crashed head-on into another vehicle. Soon after the collision, Gillick was taken to a hospital where he later died. In light of Gillick's age, many are calling into question his age and whether it played a part in the collision.

How old is too old to drive?

There are safety measures and regulations in place to prevent underage driving. It’s been shown that young people often lack the cognitive development and maturity needed to safely operate a vehicle before a certain age, meanwhile elderly drivers are permitted to continue renewing their license, regardless of age. But after this weekend’s crash, questions resurface on what age is too old to drive.

Under current law, older drivers can continue operating a vehicle unless an incident occurs which calls into question their ability to drive. Highway officials often claim that old age isn’t necessarily an impediment to driving ability, and in many cases, this may be true. But some are wondering if this is the best way to look at the situation.

As the body ages, vision suffers, reaction time slows, and mental acuity can fade.

But this kind of bodily deterioration happens differently for everyone. While there is no standard timeframe in which the body declines, elderly drivers are granted uninhibited access to the roads.

As of now, we still need to share the road with aging drivers. But there are numerous signs you can look out for to prevent an accident. Take note of the following personality changes or behaviors:

  • Slowed reflexes
  • Declining vision
  • Compromised depth perception
  • Drowsiness due to medication or otherwise
  • Anxiety or nervousness
  • Confusion or forgetfulness

Look for these physical signs, if you have elderly friends or family that continue to operate a vehicle in their old age:

  • Dings and dents on their car
  • Frequent traffic tickets and violations
  • Minor or major collisions

If you see any of these signs on the road - elderly driver or not - notify the police before they result in a crash:

  • Sudden lane changes
  • Slamming on brakes
  • Accelerating quickly
  • Lane drifting
  • Forgetting to signal repeatedly
  • Ignoring red lights and stop signs
  • Confusing the brake pedal and the gas pedal

Our elders and senior citizens deserve the best care and concern, and sometimes that will mean taking away their keys. If you know someone who needs to be pulled off the road, it may be time to sit down and have a serious conversation.

It can be humbling for a senior citizen to give up their driving independence. But for their safety and that of other drivers, have the conversation sooner rather than later.

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