The driving privilege is one of the most difficult things to give up as a senior citizen. Driving can help a senior retain his or her independence. Yet driving when it is unsafe to do so could lead to a more disastrous outcome than a loss of independence; it could cause a devastating car accident. Elderly drivers may not have the visual, physical or cognitive abilities to safely operate or control motor vehicles. Like most states, Texas has specific laws regarding senior drivers.
Old Age and Driving
Operating a motor vehicle requires certain proficiencies. A driver who has lost some or all of the ability to control a vehicle should no longer be on the road. Restricting an elderly person’s driving privileges may be necessary to keep him/her and others on the road safe. Many mental, emotional and physical changes that occur naturally with age could impact an elderly driver enough to make him or her a danger behind the wheel.
- Mental confusion
- Memory loss
- Vision and hearing impairments
- Physical injuries
- Muscle weakness
- Joint stiffness
- Health conditions such as heart attack
- Inability to sit for a long time
- Slow reflexes
- Drowsiness from medications
Elderly drivers deal with many things younger drivers do not, from taking multiple prescription medications to poor eyesight. An elderly driver must take these factors into account and deal with them proactively to retain the driving privilege. Otherwise, it may come time for the elderly driver to hang up his or her keys for good. If you have been involved in an accident with a senior citizen or if a loved one has caused an accident contact our San Antonio car accident lawyers, we can help you solve this unfortunate event.
Texas Ranks Second for Elderly Crash Fatalities
Many safety organizations keep track of the number of car accidents, their outcomes and their causes. Crash data can help cities and states implement measures to reduce the number of collisions on the road each year. Some organizations record driver-related factors such as the number of people ages 65 and older involved in wrecks. According to The Senior List, Texas has a significant problem with elderly drivers.
Texas has the second-highest number of seniors involved in fatal car accidents in the country. The total number of deadly crashes involving elderly drivers in 2017 was 517, second only to Florida with 712. Over 7,000 fatal accidents involved senior drivers countrywide. The percentage of drivers in fatal accidents who were 65 or older in Texas (per 100,000 drivers) was 9.9%.
Texas Senior Driver Laws
Every driver in Texas ages 79 to 84 must visit the Department of Public Safety in person every 6 years to renew their driver’s licenses. After the age of 84, this requirement increases to every 2 years. Drivers over the age of 79 must pass vision tests and undergo medical evaluations in addition to meeting the typical license renewal requirements. You may need additional medical tests if your driver’s license office representative believes it is necessary based on your medical history.
The Department will make sure the driver is in good medical and physical condition, can obey traffic laws and can operate a vehicle safely before granting a renewal. The senior citizen may need to pass a driving test if the Department believes the driver cannot safely operate a vehicle based on a medical evaluation. Organizations such as the National Safety Council and the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) offer assessments to help seniors gauge their abilities to drive.
If a senior citizen causes a car accident, he or she may be liable for damages. The senior’s insurance company may cover victims’ damages. The elderly person may then have to pay higher costs for auto insurance and undergo further evaluations before returning to the road. If the Department of Public Safety believes the individual has declined in health or status enough to impair the driving ability, it might refuse a license renewal request.