Illinois licensing regulations address elderly driver risks

Older drivers may have an increased risk of being in a crash, even if they previously had clean driving records.

There are countless drivers who are able to maintain a clean driving records throughout their lifetime. However, as drivers age, they may become more at risk of being injured or killed in crashes, or in causing a crash that harms someone else. According to Consumer Reports, senior citizens over the age of age 80 are six times more likely to be in a fatal accident than other drivers. With a large Baby Boomer population in Chicago, as well as elsewhere in the country, this is a concerning issue that affects everyone.

Each day throughout the country, state the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 15 older people are killed and 500 more are injured in accidents. Many of these are drivers who may be experiencing age-related issues that make it dangerous for them to be behind the wheel.

What may contribute to the increasing risk of senior driver accidents?

There are many reasons for older drivers to become less safe while driving, according to NIH Senior Health. After the age of 75, many people start to experience a decline in health or cognitive function, including being able to see or hear less. It may also be difficult for older drivers to quickly react in time to avoid a hazardous situation. Other factors, such as illness, medications that cause drowsiness and injuries may affect a senior citizen's driving.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, some states have different licensing requirements for drivers after a certain age. Some of the licensing regulations in Illinois reflect an older driver's possible risk factors. These regulations include:

• Driver's license renewal every two years for drivers between 81 and 86 years, instead of every four years

• Yearly renewal after age 87

• Proof of acceptable vision for those 75 and older with each renewal

• Renewal by mail or online not allowed for those over age 75

These restrictions may seem harsh, but they are, in fact, meant to protect the senior driver as well as others sharing the road.

Elderly driver gets into fatal, multi-vehicle accident in Oak Lawn

A bizarre accident with tragic consequences illustrated the possible difficulties older drivers may experience. The Chicago Tribune reported that last October, an 81-year-old man was slumped over the wheel in his pickup truck in Oak Lawn. Another person approached the man and asked if he needed help. The driver replied that he was fine and sped away. He struck three cars, swerved into oncoming traffic at a red light and hit 11 more vehicles before his truck became airborne and landed on top of another car. The man was killed, as well as two others, and 11 more people were hospitalized - two with critical injuries. About a dozen more victims received treatment at the scene of the accident. Police were investigating to find out if the elderly driver had any medical conditions that may have contributed to the accident, since he previously had a clean driving record.

Sudden accidents such as the above example may result in devastating injuries. It is important to contact an experienced personal injury attorney after being injured in a crash.