Assessing the Auto Accident Risk of Elderly Drivers


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The discussion over whether older drivers should be required to prove they are still street-worthy is always a sensitive one. In many cases, elderly people are reliant on their ability to drive in order to maintain their standard of living and have the freedom to travel. The Center of Disease Control (CDC) provides little information about the auto accident risk people pose as their cognitive and physical abilities begin to diminish with age. Instead, they focus on the importance of independence and on keeping the older driver safe. Risks to Other Drivers However, the risk that a driver will cause an auto accident does increase with age. A RAND study noted that although older drivers account for fewer accidents than other age groups, those over 65 are 16 percent more likely to cause a collision than people ages 25-64. The conflicting results may be because senior drivers are on the road less, because they're no longer shuttling children and commuting to work. As a person matures, they're likely to see changes in numerous areas that impact their ability to safely operate a vehicle, including:

  • Vision
  • Hearing
  • Memory
  • Mobility

Risk Management On the other hand, studies have shown that elderly drivers are quite likely to self-regulate. In other words, they realize that their abilities have diminished, and they take steps to avoid situations that will put them, or others, at risk. For instance, an older driver will likely allow additional following space between themselves and the car ahead, in order to allow more time to stop. They are also more prone to avoid driving in conditions deemed unsafe, such as in heavy traffic or at night. Moreover, drivers age 70 pose just 9 percent greater risk than other adult drivers, while those ages 55 have an 18 percent higher chance of causing an accident. This indicates that people tend to hang up their keys on their own as they age, leaving purely the safest elderly drivers on the road. However, those who do continue to sit behind the wheel should be sure to follow up with doctor check-ups, vision and hearing screenings, and be certain to drive only when they feel fit, rested and well. Risk to Self Because of factors like self-regulation, adherence to seat-belt laws and low incidences of impaired/ drunk driving, the risk of an elderly person causing a collision is relatively small. However, the aged driver is far more likely to be hurt or killed in a wreck. There is little argument that a person's body becomes more fragile with age and the CDC reports that approximately 15 older Americans die in car wrecks each day, and another 500 are injured. Therefore, the person with the highest risk, is the senior driver, or an elderly passenger.

Charleston Auto Accident Attorney

More often than not, the elderly tend to ignore their injuries and are less likely to request assistance after a wreck, out of concern for causing a fuss. If you are a mature driver and have been hurt as a result of another driver's negligence, you may be entitled to compensation that will assist you with medical bills and cover pain and suffering. Get the care you need and deserve. Contact us about your case or speak directly with one of our attorneys by calling 1(800)610-2546.

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