Malpractice News

June 22, 2013

People outlive healthy driving ability by 6 years

The baby boomers—the generation born as fathers came back from WWII—are getting older. Some estimates put the number at 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 every day. This means an exponential increase in the number of elderly drivers as well. Researchers say that with this rising number, doctors should be more diligent than ever in discussing with seniors about when to stop driving, but they’re falling down on their jobs.

Conversations come too late

Dr. Marian Betz, lead author of the study on elderly driving, said, “These conversations often don’t happen until clinicians see a ‘red flag,’ which could mean an accident or some physical problem that makes driving more difficult.” The drivers, on the other hand, were open to having the conversation earlier but were not likely to bring up the subject themselves.

Elderly want conversation sooner

The study was of 33 drivers over 65 and 8 health care providers. The health care providers called the conversations “unpleasant” but the drivers themselves said they were “open to these discussions and generally regarded their health care providers as ‘fair minded.’”

Losing keys means losing independence

Betz guessed that doctors found the conversations unpleasant because, “Driving is linked to independence, and asking for someone’s keys is very emotional.” However, most people “outlive their ability to drive safely by more than six years.” The best thing is for doctors to be more proactive and bring up the question before an accident happens. Elderly drivers should have a head’s up when their driving days are numbered so they can make plans for alternative transportation.


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