It is common knowledge that the average age of the population is increasing. This is due to the fact that the aging population is much larger now than it has ever been before. And with this aging population comes the realization that there are now many older drivers who are still in possession of their licenses, and are keeping them longer than any previous generation. Why is this such a problem for Oregon residents today? It is because in recent years there has been a significant increase in Oregon older driver accidents, as well as older driver accidents in every state across the nation.
Safety is the most important issue here, and for federal and state traffic safety regulators, it is a complicated one. With the data showing that older driver accidents are rising in Oregon in addition to other states, these regulators are realizing that this is a real and growing problem. In truth, the data is staggering. According to national data compiled by a research group known as TRIP, in 2009 alone, 5,288 people who were older than age 65 were killed, and approximately 187,000 people were actually injured in crashes. In 2010, the number of people over the age of 65 that died in traffic crashes grew to 5,750.
And if you think that Oregon older driver accidents really aren’t an issue, you should reconsider. Just recently in May of 2012, an 85-year old woman from Ruch, Oregon, made the news when she crashed her car into a ditch on Oregon 238 near Ruch. The impact of the crash was so powerful that it launched the woman’s vehicle across the road, where it flipped several times before finally coming to a stop. The driver sustained critical injuries during the incident, and thankfully, she survived and no other people were injured.
As you can tell by the data, others have not been so lucky, and that is why officials from the National Highway Transportation Administration have recommended that every single state impose some sort of state regulations for older drivers, which may include safety programs for older drivers as well as incentives for physicians who report their patients who should no longer be allowed to drive.
Of course, while there may be this increase in Oregon older driver accidents, the big issue that lawmakers have to take into consideration is how to actually regulate older drivers. A major problem with limiting the driving privileges of older residents is that age is something that affects people differently. While some Oregon residents may have perfect vision and good reflexes until they are 90, some others may experience loss of vision and reflexivity around the age of 70. This is why, at this time, we do not see a “blanket age” at which driving is prohibited.
Instead, what we are seeing today is an attempt at rational regulation. For example, in Oregon, licenses are renewed every eight years, and beginning at age 50, all drivers have to complete a vision screening at the time of renewal. In addition, in the state of Oregon, health care professionals are required to report “severe and uncontrollable” ailments that could affect a person’s ability to drive safely, regardless of their age. With these kinds of regulations in place, it is hoped that Oregon older driver accidents can see a decrease in the coming years.