There are a lot of elderly drivers on the road in Georgia, and that number is only going to climb in the coming years. In 2009, there were 33 million drivers over the age of 65 in Georgia and that number rose to 45 million in 2018. By the year 2030, that number is expected to increase to 60 million.
The good news is that elderly drivers know the risks they face when they are out on the road, and they understand that their bodies are more fragile than the other motorists they share the road with. The bad news is that elderly drivers are much more likely to be seriously injured or killed when they are involved in an accident. All drivers must understand the risks elderly drivers face when they are on the road, and how they can stay safe.
Are Elderly Drivers More at Risk of Being Involved in a Car Crash?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drivers over the age of 70 are much more likely to be killed in a crash than drivers aged 35 to 54. Other studies have shown that of all age groups, teenagers and seniors are more at risk of being involved in a serious auto accident while they are on the road than any other age group.
Why are Elderly Drivers More at Risk of Being Involved in a Car Crash?
Even though senior drivers are not likely to engage in dangerous behaviors while they are behind the wheel, such as texting and driving or speeding, they are still at a higher risk of being involved in a crash. There are many reasons for this and they are as follows:
- Fragility: Elderly drivers have very fragile bodies, and their bones and joints are particularly susceptible to becoming injured in a crash. Arthritis, a very common condition that affects approximately 80 percent of aging Americans, can make performing even the smallest tasks very difficult and painful. Arthritis may prevent a person from turning on their signal or swerving to miss another vehicle before crashing into it. This is just one condition that places senior drivers at a higher risk of being involved in a crash. The fragility of a senior’s body also places them at risk of being seriously hurt from broken bones, which can be fatal for an elderly individual.
- Hearing and vision issues: Drivers rely on their hearing and vision when they are behind the wheel. Motorists must be able to see the road in front of them, as well as their surroundings. Hearing is also important for drivers, as they must be able to hear the sirens of emergency vehicles and other sounds on the road, such as train warning signals and pedestrian walk signals. The elderly population often cannot see or hear as well as they once did, which could cause a crash on the road.
- Slower reaction times: As a person ages, their reflexes slow, and physical changes in nerve fibers also make reaction times slower. The parts of the brain responsible for motor control also deteriorate over time, which means an elder individual may not react as quickly to traffic conditions as someone younger.
- Trouble focusing: As a person ages, it takes longer to absorb and process new information. This is because receptors and neurons in the brain are naturally lost over time, making it more difficult to concentrate and focus on their surroundings.
- Poorer judgment: Older individuals often experience cognitive decline, which can result in poor judgment and poor decision-making abilities. A senior may try to make a right turn on a red light in areas where it is prohibited, or they may think they have enough time to travel through a crosswalk when a pedestrian has started to cross the road.
- Medical conditions: Conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s effect a person’s mental capacity, focus, and ability to multitask. A senior may suffer from these conditions before they even have a diagnosis and so, they and their families do not realize the dangers of getting behind the wheel.
- Older vehicles: An often overlooked factor that contributes to accidents involving senior citizens is the vehicles they drive. Older individuals tend to stick to vehicles they are familiar with, but those vehicles do not typically have the safety features of newer vehicles. Older vehicles are also more likely to break down while a senior is on the road, placing them at a greater risk of being involved in a crash.
Safety Tips for Senior Drivers
Although many factors place seniors more at risk of being involved in a crash, there are also ways for them to stay safe when they are on the road. The most important safety tips are as follows:
- Avoid driving at night: Nighttime driving is more dangerous for seniors because they often have vision issues that already make it more difficult to see.
- Avoid distractions: No driver should become distracted while on the road, but it is even more important that seniors do not eat, drink, or do anything but drive while they are on the road, as it is often already difficult for them to focus.
- Raise the seat: Some seniors start losing headroom as they age. If necessary, sit on a cushion or use other devices to raise the seat so it is possible to see over the dashboard.
- Attend yearly examinations: Annual visual and hearing examinations can help ensure older drivers are not impaired when they get behind the wheel.
- Check medications: Some medications can make a person drowsy or even impaired. All medication labels should be checked so seniors can better understand when a drug can impact their ability to drive safely.
Call Our Car Accident Lawyer in Atlanta After a Crash
Whether you are a senior citizen or another driver that has been involved in a crash, our Atlanta car accident lawyer at MG Law is here to help. Call us today at (404) 982-4219 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation and to learn more about how we can help you claim the full financial compensation you deserve.