Too Old To Drive?

Charles Boustany Jr. headshot, as US Representative of Louisiana AP

For the last six decades, Israel Haimowitz has stuck to the same routine: an afternoon snack of cookies and cognac.

"It started with the advice of my doctor up north," he says.

He's lived to 100 and still gets out every day, driving behind the wheel of his own car.

"It's my independence, my privilege of going everywhere," he says. "If you took away my driver's license, I think I'd die."

But dying in traffic accidents is what's concerning lawmakers and safety experts, reports CBS News Correspondent Bobbi Harley. A record number of Americans are starting to turn 65. In Florida alone, nearly a quarter of a million drivers are already 85-years old or older - triple what that number was just 15 years ago making the elderly the fastest growing group of drivers.

"I think there's a danger out there, and I think an amount of seniors that are there might be pushing it," says Rep. Ron Greenstein.

Already older drivers have a higher rate of fatal crashes per mile driven than all but the youngest drivers. In the next 30 years, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety projects the number of seniors in car accidents will jump from just under 800,000 to nearly 2.2 million - with more than 15,000 elderly drivers getting killed each year.

The problem comes in determining which drivers might pose the most risk. The majority of states don't test the abilities of any driver once you get your license, leaving people to police themselves as they age.

"I gave it up, but what it has done to me, there are times, it's given me depression," says 85-year-old Terry Eaton. "I feel the loss after so many years of going into a car and driving, I can't do it."

It's not just the loss of independence, but the lack of public transportation that's stopped Florida lawmakers eight times from passing measures to screen senior drivers.

Nationwide, only two states, New Hampshire and Illinois, require road tests for people over 75 to renew their licenses, while Florida, along with California and Maryland, continue to study how best to evaluate older drivers.

"There's a lot of variation in drivers' skills," says Susan Ferguson. "Probably, some drivers who are 100-years-old are in better shape and even better drivers who are 80-years-old or even 70-years-old."

"One hundred is only a number on a piece of paper, that's all," says Haimowitz.

Or the age on his newly renewed driver's license.
  • Jaime Holguin

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