JAMA Insights Commentary
Journal of the American Medical Association, September 26, 2023
Commentary by David Carr, MD, and Ganesh Muneshwar Babulal, PhD
What’s Interesting about this article?
- The older adult (>65 years) population in the US will increase to 88 million by 2050 and represent at least 23% of all drivers.
- Compared with younger drivers, older adults experience decreases in visual, cognitive, and motor functions, resulting in a 2.5 times higher risk of a crash death for those aged 75-79 years old, and a 5-times higher risk for those 80 years or older.
- More than 90% of crashes are due to human error. Innovations in electronic automotive technologies may increase the safety of older drivers.
- Autonomous/driverless cars may represent the ultimate solution to unsafe older drivers.
- “Taking away the car keys” is one of the most dreaded and difficult challenges for children of older drivers.
- Clinicians have an ethical “duty to warn” and notify state license agencies if they are aware of impairments or medications of older patients who refuse to stop driving.
- Loss of driving privileges affects the independence of older adults and may result in increased loneliness and depression.
- Mandatory cognitive and motor skills assessment prior to license renewal may be one possible solution.
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