Although many people over the age of 65 are able to operate a vehicle safely, there are a number of senior drivers who are not fit to drive. Not only do these drivers threaten their own lives, but they threaten the lives of everyone else on the road. According to crash data provided by the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, 958 people were killed on state roadways in 2015. Of those fatalities, a surprising 209 were senior drivers. While this number was lower than the previous two years, it still represents nearly 22 percent of all traffic accident fatalities that year.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that in 2014, 2,745 people between the ages of 65 and 74 were killed in car accidents across the U.S., and 2,964 deaths occurred to people over the age of 74. This national average accounted for approximately 8 and 9 percent of all traffic accident deaths, which is significantly lower than the Tennessee car accident fatality rate for seniors.
Despite this high number of deaths, Tennessee does not require any special licensing requirements for elderly drivers. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, 33 states in the country have special requirements for senior drivers, including vision tests, road tests and mandating a more frequent renewal period. All drivers in the state, however, are required to renew their driver’s licenses every five years regardless of age, and are asked to complete a basic vision test.
Some believe that more stringent driver’s license renewal policies for seniors could help to reduce the number of elderly people involved in fatal car accidents throughout the state.