When Does Old Age Become Negligent Driving?

Most of us equate driving with independence. When we were young we counted the years, then months, then days until we finally had our ticket to freedom and independence – a driver’s license. Even as we complain about traffic jams, the price of gas, and the lack of public transit, the vast majority of us would not voluntarily give up the right to drive without a fight. Unfortunately, that is exactly what it often comes to when older drivers remain behind the wheel long after they should. The problem of course is determining when it’s time to give up the keys. Almost every state has grappled with that question, and each has come up with a different answer.

As the baby boomer generation reaches retirement age, the country’s age profile is shifting. Not only are people living longer than they did a century ago but an unprecedented percentage of the population in is over the age of 65 and the numbers are only expected to grow. States have been forced to address the issue of potential dangers that come with elderly drivers. State laws vary widely regarding older drivers. Thirty states plus the District of Columbia have passed some type of legislation dealing with older drivers. Some states have implemented mandatory vision testing each time a driver renews his or her license while others are requiring older drivers to renew their driver’s licenses more frequently than younger drivers.

The State of Washington does not require seniors to do anything differently than younger drivers to renew a license; however, the state does encourage anyone over age 55 to take a “collision prevention course.” According to the Washington State Department of Licensing, the course will teach:

  • The effects of aging on your driving.
  • Driver problem areas such as yielding the right of way, speeding, following distances, sharing the road, road signs, and signals.
  • How to limit your distractions.
  • How to properly use safety restraints (seat belts, air bags).
  • What effects medications and alcohol can have on your driving.
  • The importance of maintaining a safe vehicle.

Why Are Older Drivers A Risk on the Road?

A number of age-related issues can contribute to making an older driver a risk to other motorists. As we age, our bodies begin to deteriorate. Our reaction time slows down, our sight becomes less than perfect, and some of us don’t hear as well as we used to. In addition, many older Americans require medication, which can create hazards when behind the wheel.

The problem for lawmakers is that no two people age the same or face the same health concerns. Because of this, there is no easy way to determine when someone should no longer operate a vehicle. An age limit will not work because while one 75-year -old may be a serious danger behind the wheel another could be just as healthy and alert as he or she was at the age of 45. However, if an older driver causes a crash, he or she could be held responsible for any injuries that result. Negligence by an older driver can form the basis of a personal injury lawsuit.

If you have been injured in a Washington State car accident and you believe that the other driver’s negligence contributed to the accident, then you may be entitled to compensation. Along with recovering costs associated with medical bills, lost wages and property damage, you may also be entitled to compensation for the pain and suffering the accident caused.

Get a Free Consultation with a Washington Injury Lawyer

Consult an experienced Washington State car accident attorney as soon as possible to determine what your legal options may be. The knowledgeable attorneys at Mariano Morales Law can help. Contact the team today by calling (509) 853-2222 or by using our online contact form for your free initial consultation.