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Car Accidents with Elderly Drivers
The baby boomer generation is getting older. As the largest demographic group in the U.S. population, the numbers of senior drivers over the age of 65-years old are now at an all-time high. In 2016, there were an estimated 49.2 million elderly drivers on the road in the United States. These drivers, while experienced, are at high risk for auto accidents. In 2015 there were 6,165 people 65 and older killed and an estimated 240,000 injured in motor vehicle traffic crashes. Older people made up 18 percent of all traffic fatalities and 10 percent of all people injured in traffic crashes during the year. Recent statistics show that more than one out of every ten fatal car accidents involve a driver over the age of 65. As motorists continue to drive at older ages, there are numerous factors that contribute to senior driver-related car crashes.
Risk Factors for Older Drivers
- Delayed response time
- Declining hearing and vision
- Cognitive impairment
- Joint stiffness and difficulty moving
- Driving too slowly
- Ignores traffic signals or signs
- Gets lost on familiar routes
- Get increasingly nervous or agitated while driving
- Gets drowsy often while driving
- Inability to stay in their lane of travel
- Have had many more “near-misses” than usual
If you recognize any of these signs in yourself or a loved one it is imperative that you get an exam to determine if you are still fit to drive an automobile.
Medical Conditions Impacting the Elderly’s Driving Ability
Reducing Senior Driving Accidents
- Check medications- To be safe while driving, discuss medication side effects with a doctor or pharmacist that may affect driving.
- Annual exams- Have hearing and vision tests annually as well as physical exams to ensure that senses are adequate for driving.
- Extra precautions- Plan driving routes, leave extra space between vehicles and limit driving during poor visibility conditions. These safe driving habits can help reduce the risk of accidents.
Wrong Vehicle Type for the Elderly
- Is the car too big or too small? Can the driver smoothly steer the car around turns? Can the driver see over the steering wheel while driving? The driver’s physical stature should be considered when choosing a car. Visibility can be reduced, creating unsafe blind spots for senior drivers. A way to overcome these obstacles is to pick out a car that is lower to the ground and has a minimum number of blind spots.
- Does the car offer appropriate space for drivers with disabilities/physical impairments? Older people who have had hip or knee replacements need special consideration. Those surgeries may require extra room for maneuverability in a vehicle. If a driver is uncomfortable in the car, it may cause distractions while driving.
Did an Elderly Driver Cause a Texas Auto Accident Where you Were Injured?
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