Elderly Drivers Have Been At Fault For Half Of This Year's Fatal Crashes

Rachel Bailey

Updated Tue, May 20, 2014 10:01 am

Most 16-year-olds get their first taste of freedom with their drivers' license, but there's no magic age at which someone is no longer able to drive safely.

According to the Ohio Department of Transportation, most Americans 70 or older still have a driver's license.

Ohio State Highway Lieutenant George Harlow says half of the fatal traffic crashes in Athens County this year were caused by what he calls "mature drivers."

Harlow and police are asking those drivers to consider their limitations before hitting the streets.

"Perhaps they don't see as well as they used to and their reaction times are a little slower. We are asking them to be mindful of that as they drive - to pause for a couple extra seconds at that stop sign, or to look an extra time or two before proceeding."

The state can ask a driver with known medical conditions to get checked out by a doctor before their license is renewed. But Harlow says that is not a popular option.

"You know, to take an elderly person's driving privileges away from them is also to take a huge part of their independence and I think that folks, for all the right reasons, are hesitant about saying something," Harlow said. "It's a difficult conversation to have. People with medical conditions that affect their ability to see or react create a dangerous situation for everyone."

Harlow encourages anyone who knows someone driving that shouldn't be to step up and be the one to do what they can to intervene before a tragedy occurs.