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Cook County Crash Highlights Risks of Senior Driving

April 19, 2016

The Chicago Sun Times reported recently on a tragic car accident that led to the death of an 84-year-old man. The collision occurred on a Saturday night in March, and the man who was killed was a passenger in the vehicle at the time of the incident. The car was being driven by his 84-year-old wife. She made a Southbound turn on Ridgeland Avenue and was hit by a car traveling eastbound. Both of the cars had a green light, and the 84-year-old wife was cited by the police for failure to yield.

The elderly man who died in the accident was on the side of the vehicle that was struck by the oncoming car. His death was ruled an accident by the Cook County medical examiner’s office. He died of blunt force injuries sustained in a motor vehicle crash. Unfortunately, he is one of many seniors who pass away in car crashes each year. Senior drivers pose a risk to themselves, as well as to other motorists on the roads. Seniors and their families should be cognizant of the risks that elderly drivers present and should make sure that a senior stops driving when it stops being safe for him to be behind the wheel.

Senior Car Crash Risks in Chicago

Illinois is one of several states throughout the United States that tries to prevent senior driving accidents by imposing special licensing requirements for seniors. While the normal license renewal period in Illinois is four years, seniors are subject to accelerated renewal. Drivers between the ages of 81 and 86 have to renew their licenses every two years. Drivers aged 87 and older are required to renew their license once per year. Once a driver has reached the age of 75, he is not allowed to renew by mail or to renew electronically. When a driver reaches 75 or older and wants to renew his license, he is also required to take a road test.

While these requirements are more stringent than many other states, a senior’s health could deteriorate quickly in some cases and thus even a one or two year renewal period may not be enough to catch all situations where a senior has become unable to drive due to physical or mental health. Seniors and their families are in the best position to know when a senior should stop driving.

Making the right choice on when to stop driving is essential because seniors face a disproportionate risk of motor vehicle accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicates seniors are more dangerous than any age group except teens on the road. While seniors represent a small percentage of drivers nationwide, accident and fatality rates among senior drivers remains disproportionately high.

If seniors stop driving when they aren’t able to be safe anymore, accidents like this recent Cook County crash– and many similar ones throughout the country– could be prevented.