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Autoweek Examines Elderly Drivers

Traffic safety is a major concern for the auto industry as well as the government. In the past, different issues pertaining to the risk in traffic safety are raised. In the past decades, drunk driving is one of the major threats in traffic safety. This issue is continually addressed by the government and car manufacturers.

Devices and legislations as well as advocacy campaigns were the major weapons in combating the threat of drunk driving. Recently, the number of drunken driving related accidents has decreased but another problem takes its place as the most common threat to traffic safety, distracted driving. Teen driving is also seen as a potential threat to traffic safety, and that parent involvement is important. More recently, another issue on traffic safety was raised, this time concerning the elderly.

It is a common knowledge that as a person grows older, more than 50 years old specifically, they loose some skills and abilities which are important in driving situations. Older people tend to suffer from sight loss. This will definitely affect their driving capabilities since sight is of utmost importance in driving.

Motor impairment is also exhibited commonly by older people and this may also affect their capabilities to shift gears or step on the gas or brake pedal. Cognitive skills may also be impaired as a person grows old. This will surely affect driving since proper processing of information to reach a decision is important in driving where constant decisions needs to be made.

The said impairments has led to debates whether older people needs to undergo evaluation to determine their capability to drive safely. AutoWeek, the country's sole weekly auto magazine, tackles this issue. The April 2 issue of the said magazine will contain the article about the concern over the elderly. According to the magazine, the American Association of Retired Persons, a group working for the welfare of persons 50 years old upward calls for graduated licenses for the elderly.

This means that they will undergo evaluation to determine whether a driving privilege will still be given to them or withhold from them. This is similar to teens who earn privileges as they become more skilled drivers, only it is the other way around.

Kevin Wilson, the Senior Editor for AutoWeek, thinks that the proposed step may be impractical. "As states undergo financial pressures, periodic reevaluation becomes impossible," says Wilson. "They tend to ignore retesting and instead rely on mail-in or online driver's license renewals to save money," he added further.

While the debate is still ongoing as to the fate of older drivers, it is clear that there needs to be a way to determine when older drivers will be allowed to drive. Similar to a Nissan knock sensors which gathers pertinent information and acts based on them, public policies concerning older drivers needs to do the same.

About The Author Ryan Thomas is a native of Denver, Colorado. He grew up in a family of car afficionados. He now resides in Detroit where he owns a service shop and works part time as a consultant for a local automotive magazine.
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