We all know that as people get into their senior years, their cognition, physical mobility and reflexes can suffer — impacting their ability to drive safely. However, certain medical conditions can seriously affect a person’s driving ability as well. Some of these are associated with aging. Others can occur at any age.
If a person gets into an accident and law enforcement authorities believe a medical condition may have caused or contributed to it, they may be required to get a doctor’s authorization to get their license back. They may have to retake the written and road tests as well.
However, until and unless a person is involved in an accident or they’re required by state law to retake tests when their license is up for renewal, they may continue to drive when it’s not safe. This is especially true if they don’t have family members around to stop them — or loved ones who don’t want to take on that unenviable task.
State licensing requirements for senior drivers vary significantly. Some states, like Michigan, have no special requirements for senior drivers. However, in Illinois, drivers over 75 must take a road test in order to renew their license.
Two of the most common medical conditions that impact senior drivers are related to vision: cataracts and macular degeneration. Both conditions typically progress over time.
Of course, dementia can impact judgment, decision-making skills and memory. It, too, is progressive. People may not realize until it’s too late that a loved one is suffering from dementia and that they should no longer get behind the wheel.
Epilepsy, unlike the above medical conditions, can afflict people of any age. The danger in driving from people with this neurological disorder is that they can suffer seizures that can cause them to lose awareness and possibly even consciousness. Sometimes, if a person with epilepsy is able to prevent seizures with medication, they may be allowed to drive on a restricted license. Every situation is different, and — again — requirements vary by state.
If you or a loved one has suffered injuries in a crash caused by another driver’s medical condition, that should not impact your ability to seek compensation for expenses and damages. It’s wise to talk with an attorney to determine how best to proceed.