When Should an Elderly Driver Hang up the Car Keys?

(KATV) We tend to worry about teenagers getting behind the wheel of a car, but senior citizens have been the road side danger lately.

This month, there have been several major accidents in the state caused by elderly drivers and it has people questioning the driving skills of our aging population and what, if anything, needs to be done about it.

In Little Rock Thursday, a 78-year old man allegedly drove into a moving car, he died. Later in the afternoon an 81-year old woman trying to park drove through a business window, everyone walked away unharmed. But earlier in the month an 85-year old man drove through a drug store in Danville, killing a toddler.

This was the scene at a Little Rock DMV Thursday, people waiting in line jumped out of the way as an 81-year old woman unintentionally drove through the glass window.

According to a Carnegie Mellon University Study, the fatality rate for drivers 85 and over is four times higher than it is for teenagers.

Melny Moore with Thompson Driving School says, "They want to live life too, and I hope that when I'm older someone will take the time to reteach me."

In the DMV crash case, the driver accidentally stepped on the accelerator while trying to park. Getting older sometimes means confusion, loss of vision, hearing and slower motor skills, but car keys mean independence.

Moore says families are enrolling their elderly parents in driving classes to test them and get an opinion on how they're doing. It's also a great refresher course. The school doesn't have the authority to take your license away.

Many of the elderly students have never had a speeding ticket and keep passing their written and eye test, but you're not required to take your driving test after the first time you get your license.

Moore says, "Our main goal is to build people up and give them confidence and the security of knowing that what they're doing is correct."

Maria Reynolds-Diaz adds, "When we talk about driving in cars, safety is our number one priority."

Diaz with AARP says their members also give driving courses, have a driver fit program to see if your car is suitable and when it's time they'll sit with you and talk about taking the keys away and making arrangements. "We believe that assessment and screening should be done across the board for every one of all ages."

The lady who drove into the DMV told Channel Seven over the phone she's glad no one was hurt Thursday.

The insurance companies Channel Seven called don't require seniors to re-take the driving test, but starting at age 65 most will give you discounts or incentives for taking a defensive driving, improvement course or the AARP Driving Safety Program.

For more information on AARP, click on the link under the picture.