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Thursday, November 23 2017 @ 11:08 AM UTC

Dangers of older drivers

Biking in MarylandOur view: Maryland's aging driving population poses a serious safety risk that lawmakers in Annapolis appear reluctant to recognize
Via the Baltimore Sun

If there is some good to arise from the tragic death of Nathan Krasnopoler — the 20-year-old Johns Hopkins University student killed while riding his bicycle on University Parkway by an 83-year-old driver who didn't notice him in the bike lane — it may be to call greater attention to the dangers of Maryland's aging driver population.

Today, Mr. Krasnopoler's parents were in Annapolis to brief the House Environmental Matters Committee on the latest data provided by the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration documenting the threat. The number of Maryland drivers over age 70 is expected to double in just seven years and triple in 15 as baby boomers reach their geriatric years.

Turning 70 doesn't necessarily make a person a bad driver, but as a group, older drivers are more prone to cause car crashes — even as they drive less. Declining skills and vision, slower reaction time and potentially reduced mental acuity are all factors.

One of the MVA statistics that leaps out is that while younger drivers are involved in more crashes — peaking at age 25-34 — the proportion of drivers who are at fault in crashes turns sharply upward after age 55. Indeed, licensed drivers age 80 or over are as likely as teens to be at fault in accidents.

Showing up at the MVA to renew a driver's license every two years may sound like a hassle, but it can also be a lifesaver. Just ask Susan Cohen and Mitchell Krasnopoler, who lost their son two years ago this month. Some "accidents" are potentially avoidable.

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