Should Doctors Decide When a Patient Is Too Old to Drive?

Gregory A. Hood, MD


January 23, 2019

In This Article


The 19th century requirement of a runner with a red light was an attempt to avoid death and injury, which is what we are also trying to avoid today when it comes to seniors and driving. We have all heard about incidents in which seniors mistook the accelerator for the brake and wound up injuring (or killing) pedestrians.

It is also true, however, that seniors don't have more accidents than younger drivers. More often, the lives that seniors save by not driving are their own, because they have a greater personal risk for injury and complications from injuries.

From 2005 to 2014, the rate of fatalities in crashes involving older drivers dropped 9%, from 6647 to 6045. While the overall trend shows a decline over those 10 years, the number of people killed in crashes involving older drivers was at its lowest point in 2009 and has generally increased since then.[8]

Furthermore, seniors who do not drive may experience compounded health problems; they are estimated to miss 15% of their medical appointments.[9] This is an important issue for ongoing discussion and education.


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