Senior citizens have the right to drive in Virginia. However, the government has identified driving risks that comes with age. Consequently, Virginia law requires that at age 75, a driver must pass a vision test and renew a driver’s license in person at the Department of Motor Vehicles every five years. If you’re approaching age 75, if you have a loved one who is 75 or older, or if you’ve been hurt in an accident with an older driver, there is important information you need to know.
How Does Age Impact Safe Driving?
Older drivers may have significant experience behind the wheel. Additionally, they are more likely to wear seatbelts and less likely to drive drunk, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, their age may present new risks they did not have to be aware of as younger drivers. Some of the risks facing older drivers include:
- Slower reflexes
- Difficulty turning or moving easily
- Diminishing cognitive abilities
- Changes in vision
These changes can cause a driver to make a mistake or prevent a driver from avoiding a crash.
What If I Think My Loved One Needs to Stop Driving?
Many families face challenging decisions when they believe that a relative is no longer able to drive safely. Loved ones often feel they’re taking away a parent’s independence by taking away the car keys. However, an honest conversation is a way to discuss safety, identify issues, and suggest that it’s best to only drive short distances during daylight hours or only drive with someone else in the car with them. Pointing out alternative ways to maintain independence can help, too, including using public transportation, rideshares, or an Uber driver. Some families find it useful to involve their loved one’s physician, so it is the doctor who explains the risks of continuing to drive and makes the recommendation to stop.
What Should I Do If I’ve Been Hurt by an Older Driver?
Accidents involving drivers age 65 and older are not automatically the fault of the older driver. Instead, as is the case with any car crash, you must prove who was at fault. A full investigation must be done, and no assumptions should be made. If the investigation reveals that the older driver was at fault for your injuries or a loved one’s death, you may have the right to pursue compensation for all of your damages. You should work closely with an experienced car accident lawyer to make sure that your rights and your recovery are protected.