PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Ernie Vasil, a senior citizen from Lincoln Place, drives a lot — like transporting seniors to a favorite market.
So when it comes to seniors hanging up their license, he says, “I’d say around (age) 80 or 85 they should start consider being off the road.”
A new study by a national transportation research group reinforces that view.
“Pennsylvania ranks fourth in the nation in the number of fatalities where the crash involved a driver 65 years of age or older,” says Carolyn Bonifas of the TRIP Research Group in Washington, D.C.
In 2010, Pennsylvania ranked fourth with 265 fatalities involving an older drivers — just after Florida (503 deaths), Texas (397 deaths) and California (390).
Overall, seniors drive just 8 percent of all road miles but account for 17 percent of traffic fatalities.
The problem is likely to get worse, as baby boomers get older. By the year 2025, the population of Americans 65 and over is going to explode by 60 percent.
That means that one out of every five drivers on the highway will be over 65.
Older drivers themselves are often the victims of these accidents.
“What may for a younger driver be only a minor collision and a couple scrapes can be much more devastating to an older driver,” says Bonifas.
But older drivers treasure the same freedom that everyone else enjoys.
“I think it’s important because if their children or maybe they don’t have a ride, maybe they don’t use Access, maybe they just want to be independent,” says Gene Rua of Greenfield.
And most seniors say it’s safer to drive with a 65-year-old than a 16-year-old.
“No texting, no cell phones, none of that,” says one.
Nonetheless, Mike Davern of Greenfield gave up his license at age 80.
“People don’t want to let go of their license, but I feel that I don’t want to be responsible for somebody getting killed.”