When will Maryland address the dangers of elderly drivers?

When will Maryland address the dangers of elderly drivers?

Many people choose to ignore the fact that older drivers are more prone to a motor vehicle accident. While reliable statistics back up that notion, lawmakers and voters are leery of doing anything about it in fear that they will alienate members of that demographic.

Perhaps, in Maryland, it is time to set aside fears of hurting one’s feelings and take steps to ensure that motorists are safe. This essentially is the argument being posed by the parents of a 20-year-old Johns Hopkins University student, who died while riding his bike when an elderly driver struck him. The student was operating within the bike lane, but the 83-year-old driver did not see him, and hit him.

The student’s parents recently appeared in front of the House Environmental Matters Committee, armed with information compiled by the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration, to plead their case about this very real threat to safety on the roads.

The information shows a driver’s likelihood of being involved in a crash rockets up after age 55. The stats liken an 80-year-old driver to a teen driver in terms of how likely they are to be involved in a car accident.

With that being well documented, none of Maryland’s laws do anything to stop these elderly drivers from causing accidents. An elderly driver’s skill behind the wheel is rarely brought up unless they are involved in a crash – the damage already having been inflicted – or if family members become worried and bring it to the attention of the Motor Vehicle Administration.

Meanwhile, Maryland lawmakers have placed numerous restrictions on teen drivers in attempts to limit accidents caused by these new motorists.

Being elderly is not an excuse to cause an accident. Anyone injured at the hands of an elderly driver can still hold that person accountable in a civil court, suing him or her for damages tied in with the incident.

Source: The Baltimore Sun, Dangers of older drivers,” Feb. 19, 2013

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