You probably didn’t wake up this morning and click on our lawyer blog thinking “I’d really like a history lesson today,” but that is exactly what you are going to get. In 1946, the United States was just emerging from World War Two, and while total war was an incredibly costly affair, victory meant that this particular year was characterized by tremendous hope for the future. Conflict had driven rapid increases in industry and pulled our country out of the worst depression in its history, and for many years afterwards Americans enjoyed a time of great prosperity.
Families could now afford to expand, having more children while still maintaining their normal standard of living. Thus, between 1946 and 1964, the United States experienced a baby boom that resulted in nearly 40 million newborns being added to the population. In 2013, the front end of this group is now approaching 70 years of age, and many auto regulatory agencies are worried about a potential increase in car accident injuries and what this boom could mean for driver safety. While our attorneys know there are many problems that come with physical deterioration during old age in terms of operating a vehicle, contrary to popular belief, in many ways healthy older drivers are among the safest people on the road.
On average senior citizens’ are more likely to use seatbelts, observe speed limits, and avoid drinking and driving, and while reflexes, eyesight, and hearing all diminish with age, the AAA believes that developing programs to assist elderly drivers in dealing with these deficiencies is the most realistic approach to dealing preventing motor vehicle accidents and injuries. Our lawyers learned that the agency has introduced a new program labeled “CarFit,” that will customize cars to adjust to the needs of these older drivers, and many other regulatory agencies are thinking of similar ideas.
About 10,000 Americans are turning 65 each day, and by 2020 it is estimated that one of every six drivers will be able to be categorized as senior citizens. With the steady increase of life expectancy in our country, many of these men and woman are continuing to work and putting off retirement. 88% of seniors polled claims that any policy preventing senior citizens from driving would bring with it a loss of mobility and independence, and would create significant hardships in their day to day lives. Buses and subways are often geared toward adolescent and middle-aged commuters rather than the elderly, and many of Chicago’s L’ stations require going up and down numerous staircases.
Like the AAA, our lawyers understand that the impending wave of senior drivers is an issue that we will have to grapple with in the future. However, we must also recognize that this section of the population has many redeeming traits behind the wheel, and that this issue calls for new ideas, new technologies, and effective policies that will seek to keep everyone on the road, and which recognizes the realities of our evolving socio-economic climate. (Washington Times)