According to a recently published study in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, laws requiring in-person driver’s license renewals and vision testing have significantly reduced the number of car accidents involving patients who have dementia. In certain states, physicians are required to report patients who have dementia to the state driver’s licensing authorities, although this has not had a significant impact on reducing car accidents. The study, which was conducted by the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, found that physician reporting laws are either ineffective, or they lack clear benefits.
The study findings were surprising to lead author YII Agimi, Ph.D., M.P.H., M.S., who said that older drivers typically make the decision to stop driving based on the advice they receive from their physician. For patients with dementia, physicians may be required to monitor their driving competence. According to Agimi, they found that other licensing requirements may identify patients who have dementia before their physician is able to diagnose the patient with a medical impairment.
According to previous studies, people with dementia perform significantly worse than those without the disease when it comes to on-road testing. As dementia increases with age, from nine percent among adults ages 65 and older to 30 percent in adults ages 85 and older, older drivers are at greater risk of being involved in a car wreck.
In-Person License Renewal Requirements by State
All but five states require drivers to renew their license in person at least once within two or three renewal cycles. Of those states, two require road testing, and 36 require vision testing. Only three states require physicians to report patients with dementia to the licensing authorities, while 27 states provide legal protection to physicians who reported their patients with dementia, even if it is not required by law.
After analyzing the crash-related hospital data from 2004 to 2009, they found the following results:
Of the 136,987 older drivers who were hospitalized, 5,564 were diagnosed as having dementia.
Drivers aged 60 to 69 who were hospitalized in states with in-person renewal laws were up to 38 percent less likely to have dementia compared to drivers in states that did not have in-person renewal laws.
Those same drivers were 23 to 28 percent less likely to have dementia in states that had vision testing at in-person renewal locations.
Physician reporting laws were not associated with a lower incidence of dementia in drivers who were hospitalized.
Age-based licensing requirements are an effective way to improve safety, said co-author Steven M. Albert, Ph.D., M.S., chair and professor of the Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences at Pitt Public Health. Additional research can help ensure safe driving while recognizing the mental health impact it could have on older adults.
Baltimore Car Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Advocate for Car Accident Victims
If you have been injured in a car accident involving another driver who is suffering from dementia, you are urged to contact the Baltimore car accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton as soon as possible. Our experienced and compassionate team will protect your rights and fight to ensure that you receive the financial compensation you deserve. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.
Our offices are located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Towson, allowing us to represent car accident victims in Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, Southern Maryland, and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.