Rhode Island is the most dangerous state for drivers aged 65 or more years, and New Mexico is the safest, according to data crunched by Caring.com.
The website compared the number of older adults who were killed in car accidents with that age group’s share of the population in each state. In Rhode Island, for example, senior citizens accounted for 35% of car-related fatalities in 2014, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Because, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, seniors made up just 16% of Rhode Island’s population, they were 19 percentage points more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than expected.
The availability of ride-sharing services, public transportation and family and friends who can offer rides may convince an older adult to stop driving at the appropriate time, said Dayna Steele, Caring.com’s chief caring expert and the author of “Surviving Alzheimer’s with Friends, Facebook and a Really Big Glass of Wine.”
To recognize drivers with declining cognition who can’t determine whether their physical skills have diminished to the point that it no longer is safe to drive, authors of a separate study recently published online by the journal Public Health Nursing suggest a three-pronged approach: an assessment and medication review; a computerized simulation using a touch screen interface; and a road test with a certified road test examiner.
“It is important to note that it’s not a person’s chronological age itself that puts the older driver at increased risk for driving accidents, but rather the changes in functionality and skills needed for safe driving,” said Lisa Kirk Wiese, Ph.D., first author of the research and an assistant professor in Florida Atlantic University’s Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing.
According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, 31 states have stricter rules for older drivers. The most common requirement is more frequent license renewal. Eleven states require older motorists to pass a vision test after a certain age. Illinois and New Hampshire mandate a supplemental road test at age 75.
The least safe states for senior drivers, according to Caring.com:
- Rhode Island (worst)
- New York
- New Jersey
The most safe states for senior drivers:
- New Mexico (best)
- North Dakota
- South Carolina