Are Michigan's increasingly older drivers a safety concern?
As Michigan’s population grows older, so are the state’s drivers. In fact, according to the Detroit News, 174 Michigan centurions have driver’s licenses.
Does the advancing age of drivers create a safety problem? No way, says a spokesman of Secretary of State Ruth Johnson.
Detroit News: Some experts say Michigan should follow 29 other states that have passed laws targeting senior drivers. But others, including Republican Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, say they believe it's unfair to single out one age group for restrictions.
"We don't believe there should be age discrimination for license renewals," Johnson spokesman Fred Woodhams said.
That’s a nice sentiment, standing against age discrimination. It's also complete bunk. The state already engages in age discrimination (rightfully) with a graduated license system for under-18 drivers. Seniors, unlike 17-year-olds, vote and Ruth Johnson has a reelection campaign to worry about in 2014.
Statistically speaking, seniors are on a per capita basis more likely to cause accidents.
Detroit News: Studies show older drivers have relatively low rates of fatal crashes per licensed driver. But older drivers have much higher rates of fatal crashes per miles traveled starting at age 70, and fatal crashes increase substantially for drivers 80 and older.
It’s a tough situation. On one hand, seniors who no longer have the physical skills required to be safe drivers are a road hazard. On the other hand, taking away licenses would effectively turn thousands of seniors into housebound shut-ins. That’s not cool either.
If only there was some alternative. You know, like efficient regional public transportation. That way, seniors could elect to trade their licenses (and 1998 Mercury Grand Marquis) for bus passes and remain independent, active members of society.
Of course, efficient regional public transportation in these parts is as plausible as cold fusion. – JTW