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Rise in Elderly Drivers Raises Safety Issues

An 81-year-old man drove the wrong way on the New York State Thruway for approximately nine miles last month before he crashed head-on into a car, killing his wife. The accident was among several recent incidents of elderly drivers going the wrong way on the highway, which serve as a stark reminder that age can be a factor in driving ability.

According to a usatoday.com report, investigators said they believe the man may have entered the highway in Nanuet and driven to Sloatsburg while oncoming cars frantically moved out of his way. A trooper tried unsuccessfully to intercept the man’s car before the crash. The 17-year-old driver of the other car was not injured.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 5,288 people age 65 and older were killed and 187,000 were injured in traffic crashes in 2009. These older individuals made up 16 percent of all traffic fatalities and 8 percent of all people injured in traffic crashes during the year.

As of 2008, there were 32.2 million licensed drivers 65 years and older in the United States. That number is expected exceed 40 million by 2020. In response to the aging population, the NHTSA has established the Older Driver Program Five Year Strategic Plan 2012-2017, which focuses on drivers 65 and older.

To reduce traffic accidents and injuries involving the elderly, the NHTSA implemented three goals: (1) build communication for older drivers and caregivers; (2) establish and maintain partnerships to enhance older driver’s safety efforts; and (3) develop and promote driver licensing policies.

In the report, the NHTSA said it does not wish to restrict driving privileges for the elderly who are able to drive. It said it plans to raise awareness about taking medications and driving, accessibility modifications that can make driving easier and other related tips.

If you or someone you love was injured in an accident involving an elderly driver, or any other driver who was at fault, please contact the New York City car accident attorneys at David Resnick & Associates, P.C.

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