How old is too old to drive? Seneca Trail fatal accident raises questions

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by Claudia Coffey

WHAS11.com

Posted on December 16, 2013 at 6:48 PM

Updated Monday, Dec 16 at 7:48 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- The death of a 97-year-old woman killed in a weekend car wreck is raising new questions about how old is too old to be behind the wheel.

Once Don Schmidt's mother reached a certain age, the family intervened and knew it was time to stop driving, a difficult decision.

"I had to remove my keys from my mom's car from here, yes," Don Schmidt said.

It's a discussion so many have had especially after this weekend’s accident involving a 97-year-old woman, Ann Unterbrink. The accident happened near Seminole Avenue and Seneca Trail in the Iroquois neighborhood. Police believe Unterbrink pulled out in front of a van traveling down Seneca Trail. They said it's unclear if Unterbrink ignored the stop sign or did not see the van.

AARP, or the American Association of Retired Persons, offers a variety of programs to assess a family member's driving ability

"We have a program called we need to talk. If you think mom or dad might have trouble driving you can go to AARP.org and it can help your family understand what safe driving means and how to maybe change the driving pattern for mom or dad." Scott Wegenast with AARP said.

AARP also has a smart driver course, either online or in class to refresh driving skills and make family choices about whether it’s time to stop driving.

In Kentucky, drivers are only required to renew every four years. It's up to families to intervene. And consider the following statistic from AARP.

By 2020, more than 40 million licensed drivers will be 65 and older. Older drivers have the lowest crash rate per licensed drivers. Of all age groups and crash rates continue to drop; older people are more likely to die when severely injured in car crashes.

"We need to test them, driving tests rather than just renewing. That would be the safest," Graham Bell, a motorist, said.

For more information about AARP's program go to AARP.org.
 

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