Maine has an unusually high proportion of older drivers, and this number is expected to grow exponentially in the coming decades.
About 20 percent of Maine’s licensed drivers are 65 and older. 22 percent of the fatal crashes that took place in Maine in 2010 involved drivers who were 65 years and older. Maine Department of Transportation data shows that drivers over 65 experience more crashes per mile driven, than any age group except 16 year old drivers.
Fatality Rates for Older Drivers
Dr. Daniel K. Onion, an elder issues consultant and member of the Maine Senior Drivers Coalition, observes that, “The vast majority of senior drivers do a good job [and] recognize they have problems and take measures to correct them.”But Dr. Onion also notes that some older drivers “…have a cognitive impairment and they can’t recognize their own disabilities. That’s when interventions are called for.”
If current accident rates do not change, the proportion of Maine crashes caused by drivers over 65 will almost double during the next two decades. This trend is often referred to as the “silver tsunami”, and it poses a unique challenge to state governments who must balance the safety of all of Maine residents with the rights of older drivers who wish to maintain their independence.
David W. Eby, Ph.D., a research scientist at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, boldly states that Maine (along with the rest of the country), ought to be doing more to prepare for the onslaught of elderly drivers. Eby says, “Unfortunately I think most states are woefully unprepared for the coming wave of baby boomers.”
Taking a long-term view, experts suggest long-term solutions, such as road improvements, driver education, safer vehicles and better public transportation as viable ways to keep older drivers safer while still maintaining their independence.
While it is clear that not all elderly drivers are unsafe, a proportion suffers cognitive declines which negatively affect their driving capabilities. Our Maine personal injury lawyers recognize the tragic consequences of unsafe older drivers. We are here to help if you or your loved one has been involved in a car accident caused by an unsafe elderly driver. Don’t hesitate to contact our Portland or Lewiston personal injury attorneys with questions regarding your case. Our lawyers are experienced in all aspects of personal injury law, and we are here to help.