Are Senior Citizens at Higher Risk of Being Involved in a Car Crash?
Driving on the road can present various dangers to licensed drivers and passengers. Getting into a piece of heavy machinery that weighs thousands of pounds while moving at high speeds will always involve a level of risk. However, with modern crash safety technology and cautious drivers, people can get to their destinations most of the time without incident. Defensive driving can improve roadway safety, but there will always be a risk of crash involvement.
Police-reported crashes are one of the leading causes of severe injuries and deaths in the United States. Not all drivers, unfortunately, can stay safe on the road. The youngest drivers are the most at-risk in terms of getting into car accidents because of their inexperience and mindset.
Another age group that is particularly vulnerable according to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety is drivers 65 and older. Although they drive fewer miles and tend to be safe drivers that use more caution than other age groups, they still experience higher crash death rates and cause many traffic crashes.
Why Are Older Drivers Involved in so Many Fatal Crashes?
Driving requires a lot of skill and alertness to master. You have to be able to multi-task, pay attention to what is around you, and react quickly to circumstances on the road. There are multiple reasons why older drivers tend to get into car crashes at a high rate even while driving fewer miles.
Declining Motor Function
Driver age has a major impact on ability because older people have declining physical abilities. Even the healthiest individuals start to experience weaker bones, muscles, and other systems in their bodies. Physical activity and motor function can decrease for older adult drivers and reduce their ability to operate a vehicle with control or even correctly use a passenger seat belt.
Slower Response Times
Reaction time is critical when trying to avoid a car accident. While younger drivers pose a threat to others because of their mindset, their reflexes are typically quicker. Older drivers, however, will not be able to respond as quickly to stimuli, putting themselves, other drivers, and even pedestrians at risk. Middle-aged drivers may start to experience slower response times, but it affects drivers 65 and older even more.
Hearing and/or Vision Problems
Many senses are engaged when driving. You have to be able to see and hear what is around you to know how to stay safe. Unfortunately, health statistics findings suggest that senior citizens are most likely to experience impairment to these senses that will affect their ability to drive. They may not be able to see signs or cars as clearly or hear sirens and engines. If they were to retake road tests, it is possible that they would not pass the standards for vision. This puts them at an increased vulnerability of getting into a car accident.
The Dangers of Motor Vehicle Crashes Involving Older Adults
Since older adults’ driving abilities are potentially declining as they age, this puts them and others in danger of motor vehicle accidents. Let’s take a look at some of the consequences that may arise from this reality.
A car accident will often result in physical damage to the people involved. For an older person, their physical condition puts them at an increased risk of severe or even fatal injuries during a car accident. Health problems put them in a compromised position, weakening their body and their ability to withstand physical stress. Such crashes can lead to severe consequences for older drivers and passengers, potentially turning into fatal crashes.
All age groups can be severely injured in car accidents, but older adult drivers are at a greater risk of being involved in fatal crashes. Their more vulnerable state means that a collision that might only injure younger drivers does significantly more damage to the oldest drivers. A crash involvement caused by an older driver could also result in the death of others on the road.
Even if no injuries occur as a result of the accident, another consequence of two car accidents is property damage. Since older drivers have slower response times and reduced motor functions, a collision with another vehicle is more likely to happen. This could damage the vehicles involved and lead to heavy repair costs.
Reduced Traffic Safety
Licensed drivers 65 and older may be more cautious than others, but they are also losing their abilities. Many accidents that occur involve an older person behind the wheel of one of the vehicles. While there are plenty of licensed drivers in this age group that are perfectly capable of roadway safety, there are a significant number of elderly drivers that are not.
What to do After a Car Accident with Older Drivers
Since older drivers tend to cause a high number of accidents each year, you must know what to do if this situation happens to you, whether you are older or belong to a different age group.
Having as much data from the crash scene is important for the future. For this reason, you should collect as much information as you can, including the driver’s license of the other party, insurance information, and a copy of the police report once emergency departments arrive. This will help you for claims purposes.
Seek Medical Treatment
Taking care of yourself is priority number one after motor vehicle accidents. Even if you feel fine at the scene of the crash, you should schedule an examination as soon as possible. Not all injuries are immediately evident after a collision, and you may not experience side effects for weeks. See a doctor and make sure that your health is taken care of quickly.
Contact Personal Injury Attorneys
Dealing with the damage to your car may be covered via property damage liability claims. However, if you also get injured in the accident and are facing medical bills, lost wages, or other damages, then you may be able to file a personal injury claim. A personal injury case allows injured victims to pursue compensation when another party’s negligence causes the accident. Driver age doesn’t matter to the victim if they can prove that the other driver is responsible.
Personal injury and insurance claims can be complex processes to navigate, so working with personal injury attorneys can give you a better chance of success. Call a lawyer today for a free consultation about your personal injury case.