AP report finds more seniors driving on the roads
For many senior citizens, it is hard to relinquish control and hand over keys to their car. There are no laws in New York regulating drivers based on age and there seems to be a new trend. YNN's Elaina Athans has more.
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NEW YORK STATE -- The number of senior citizens hitting the roads has increased according to a new study. The Associated Press finds more than four percent of drivers statewide are 80 or older.
There are no age cutoffs in New York for drivers, but there are requirements in 30 states, plus the District of Columbia. In New York, the Department of Motor Vehicles can step in on reasonable grounds, but it's mostly up to the senior or their loved ones to decide when it's time to hand over keys.
“A lot of them don’t like it. It’s uncomfortable," said Decat Driving School owner Bill Ruggles.
Ruggles is a guy often called upon for his expertise. He owns a driving school and will test seniors, sometimes having to give hard news.
"We have come back and said at this point, possibly retest him later, but right now, probably not the best driving situation, but it’s a decision they need to make," Ruggles.
Ruggles says senior citizens have admitted to him they're not able to drive anymore like they used to, but instead of surrendering their license, what they tend to do is up their insurance policy instead, so that in the event of an accident, all parties involved would be covered.
Luckily, accident numbers are low. The report found that seniors accounted for two percent statewide and make up for five percent of fatal crashes. Defensive driving courses are offered such as the "Car Fit" class.
"We go over their car with them from front to back, top to bottom. (We) make sure that everything is workable. (We) make sure that they know how to work everything. (We) make sure they can locate everything and it's a real popular program and they love it," said Driver Fitness Center Coordinator Roger Dames.
But love really lies in what the keys represent and it's more than just access to mobility.
“This is a major area of independence. A major area of self-esteem," said Ruggles.