Senior Citizens The Safest Drivers, But More Likely To Be Injured Or Killed In An Auto Accident (How To Address Older Driver Safety)
Senior citizen drivers are among the safest drivers on our roadways; however, seniors are also more likely to be injured or killed in a crash due to age-related fragility.
It’s with this in mind that Chain | Cohn | Clark joins in observing Older Driver Safety Awareness Week, which promotes the importance of mobility and transportation to ensure older adults remain active in the community, and addresses older driver crash prevention through education, public awareness, and partnerships.
By 2030, there will be more than 70 million people age 65 and older, and approximately 85-90% of them will be licensed to drive. But, with the exception of teenagers, seniors have the highest crash death rate per mile driven. Here are some other statistics to note:
- 29% of drivers are considered senior drivers.
- People 65 and older made up 17% of all traffic fatalities.
- Two out of three fatal older driver crashes involved other vehicles.
- 233,235 of senior drivers are injured in an accident each year in the United States.
- 6,549 of senior drivers are fatally injured in an accident.
- Almost 200,000 of injured seniors are treated in the emergency room
- More than 3,800 driver deaths occurred in August, the highest month of the year.
Changes to cognitive, physical, and visual capabilities occur naturally as we age, which contribute to the many factors impacting older adult safety on the road. Family and friends play a major role in identifying changes in driving behavior and beginning discussions about older driver safety. It is important to start these conversations early and discuss any needed changes in driving habits before it becomes a problem, allowing older drivers to be actively involved in the planning.
IDENTIFYING A PROBLEM
Bringing up the subject of their driving abilities can make some drivers defensive. Answering the following questions, courtesy of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, may help you decide if you need to initiate a conversation with an older driver about driving safely:
- Getting lost on routes that should be familiar?
- Noticing new dents or scratches to the vehicle?
- Receiving a ticket for a driving violation?
- Experiencing a near-miss or crash recently?
- Being advised to limit/stop driving due to a health reason?
- Overwhelmed by road signs and markings while driving?
- Taking any medication that might affect driving safely?
- Speeding or driving too slowly for no reason?
- Suffering from any illnesses that may affect driving skills?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you might need to talk with your loved one about safe driving. Read this guide from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to help you along the way.
TIPS FOR SENIOR DRIVERS
While driving for seniors can be more difficult as they age, that does not mean they have to give up their license and independence. These tips can help seniors remain safe behind the wheel and as a passenger.
- Plan before you drive: Before getting settled into the driver’s seat, senior drivers should take the time to plan their trip, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Review your route so you are familiar with the roads you will have to drive. Driving during the day and in dry conditions is safest. Poor weather and night driving can increase the risk of an accident. If possible, choose intersections with left-turn signals when green, rather than having to judge speed and vehicle distance when making a left turn on green.
- Check your medications: It is not uncommon for seniors to take medications, whether prescription over-the-counter, or supplements. Although they may be medically necessary, the medications you take could also have a negative effect on your driving skills and increase your risk of being involved in an accident. Check each medication or supplement for side effects and speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any side effects could affect you behind the wheel. The CDC offers a Personal Action Plan you can use to assist with the conversation.
- Avoid distractions and mind your distance: Distractions can affect drivers of any age, like listening to the radio, changing a station, eating, or talking or texting on the phone. These distractions can further reduce reaction time that seniors with limited mobility or reflexes can already struggle with.
- Improve strength and mobility: Committing to a regular activity plan can help improve strength and mobility, which will also improve your reflexes when driving. Senior driving statistics show the most common cause of accidents for this age group is frailty, which can also be improved by a regular fitness schedule.
- Get your eyes checked annually: Getting your eyes checked once per year can help identify any changes that could affect your driving. You should also get an eye exam if you notice any sudden changes in your vision. Vision impairment can prevent you from seeing a pedestrian or bicyclist in the road or cause you to take longer to read traffic signs, slowing down your reaction time. Always wear your eyeglasses or contacts if they are prescribed for driving.
CHP also offers free, two-hour “Age Well, Drive Smart” courses throughout the year. Through this program, seniors can sharpen their driving skills, refresh their knowledge of the rules of the road, and learn how to adjust to typical age-related physical and mental changes.
If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of someone else, or injured on the job no matter whose fault it is, contact the auto accident lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Clark by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form, text, or chat with us at chainlaw.com.