Number of senior drivers expected to increase

May 25, 2011 8:36:01 PM PDT
The California DMV is calling it a "silver tsunami" -- the big wave of older drivers about to hit California roadways. In recent years the department's been conducting extensive outreach to seniors and their families.

Within ten years, the DMV predicts the number of senior drivers on California roadways will nearly double to six million.

There have been three serious accidents in Rossmoor involving senior drivers in just six months. Two resulted in fatalities and one involved alcohol.

"A Rossmoor resident got hit in his entry...and died a few days later," said Maureen O'Rourke with Rossmoor News. "Another one was a woman who was hit in a crosswalk and received major injuries. She's 94 years old and survived."

The latest incident happened in the city 12 days ago. A 90-year-old woman was walking along a row of carports when a senior driver backed out and hit her. She died from her injuries two days later.

In 2003, an 86-year-old man plowed into the Santa Monica farmer's market, killing ten people. In 2007, an elderly man lost control of his minivan, injuring 13 students at Belmont's Ralston Middle School.

A study by AAA found drivers do become more dangerous as they age -- mostly to themselves.

Around 70, a driver's risk to themselves and others begins to rise; those aged 85 and older are killed far more often than younger drivers.

When asked if he thought senior drivers are unsafe, Rossmoor resident Dick Hildebrad said, "Sometimes. Not all the time. It depends on the driver, but there are also teenagers that are kind of scary."

Rossmoor offers refresher courses through AARP and there is an extensive bus service for those who don't drive.

In California, the DMV offers support to seniors and their families through its "senior ombudsman" program.


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