Are Eye Tests Sufficient for America's Aging Drivers?

By Matthew Askari | October 12, 2012
Car accidents are a leading cause of Injury to America's senior population, and with the number of drivers over the age of 65 sharply on the rise, should healthcare providers be doing more? According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2007 there were 15 million drivers over the age of 65. That number is expected to rise to over 40 million drivers by 2020. These drivers may have failing vision, slower reaction times, or be less mobile due to arthritis and other conditions. As stated in a recent U.S. News report, new research suggests only two-thirds of eye care specialists ask older patients about driving ability. And while most doctors did ask about common difficulties for seniors—night driving, glare and reading signs—less than 10 percent asked about making left-turns, merging and backing up, necessary actions which can also challenge older drivers. Citing the doctor-patient relationship, many eye care specialists said they were reluctant to report unsafe drivers to regulatory agencies, or were concerned about liability issues. Patrick Baker, a driver rehabilitation doctor at the Cleveland Clinic said current eye tests may be insufficient to accurately judge ability. "You don't need to be able to read the license plate in front of you, you need to be able to tell if it's a car in front of you or a shadow or some other object." Baker wants contrast vision testing, which looks at more than the ability to decipher letters. With America's older population growing, do you think we should be doing more to spot drivers that could be a hazard to themselves or others on the road?
Source: U.S. News