Are senior citizens a danger on the road?
Authorities say age may be a factor in the cause of yesterday’s three vehicle crash when an 81-year-old woman smashed her car into two buildings in Gulfport. Currently, there’s no age limit on when a driver can or can’t renew their license in Mississippi. News 25’s Gina Tomlinson spoke to local senior citizens to see if things should change.
An 81-year-old woman losing control of her vehicle, barely dodging incoming traffic in reverse, causing a three car accident on Monday raises the question: could the accident have been prevented if it wasn’t an older driver at the wheel? Sgt. Josh Bromen with Gulfport PD said, “It had to do with her age, obviously. Plus, maybe dementia, things along those lines, she wasn’t really coherent with date, time, and place.”
Katherine Reynolds is 88-years-old. She may drive her scooter up and down her apartment halls, but she’s off the roads these days. “I couldn’t back out without bumping the side of the garage. I decided, you know what, better not drive anymore.”
For some, accepting that it’s time to stop driving is a more sensitive decision. Donal Snyder Community Center Senior Supervisor Rhonda Balius said, “Everyone’s at work. You’re really dependent. It’s one of your life lines.”
Losing the independence and convenience may be a cost to consider when safety is at risk. “Should I be out there to make an accident and hurt myself or others or should I take myself off,” said Balius.
In Mississippi there is no age restrictions on renewing a driver’s license. Bobbie Smith has been driving for over 60 years with only one accident and two speeding tickets on her record. “ I’m 82 and I’m still able to drive. I think it’s based on health.”
Other seniors on the Coast say they’ll know when it’s time to step down from the wheel. Biloxi resident Mary Treadwey said, “If I get to the point where I can’t use the GPS or forget where I’m going or where I’ve been.”
Although it a little more high tech, Uber is another option for those senior citizens who can no longer drive. You just download the app on your phone. Uber Driver Cameron Rea tells News 25 he picks up five or six senior citizens a day. “Uber can pick you up from anywhere, take you anywhere, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I think it’s a good opportunity for independence.”