Elderly Drivers and Car Accidents

Elderly Drivers and Car Accidents

Elderly drivers suffer more injuries or die in a traffic accident at a higher rate compared to their younger counterparts. This is not necessarily due to the way they drive. Overall, seniors obey traffic rules such as speed limits and do not drive impaired. The higher rate can be due to health-related issues that are common among the older population. Let’s explore problems associated with elderly drivers, what can be done and when an older driver needs to stop operating a motor vehicle.

Number of Older Drivers

The number of drivers aged 70 and older has increased, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2016, about 26 million drivers over the age of 65 held active licenses to drive. This is a 56-percent increase over the number in 1999. This is in line with the fact that older individuals are enjoying better health and staying active longer. In the same year, 7,400 older drivers died in traffic accidents. An additional 290,000 people over 65 were treated for injuries suffered in a car accident. This means that on a daily basis, 20 older drivers die and 794 suffer injuries. Seniors may drive less than younger motorists and often limit their driving to daylight hours if possible. However, the total miles that seniors drive has increased by 42 percent since 2008.

Seniors and Fatal Car Accidents

Among those elderly drivers involved in car crashes, the following statistics show that:

  • More men are killed in car crashes than women.
  • Seniors involved in intersection crashes grows after age 64.
  • Fatal crashes per mile traveled increased, particularly for those over 80.
  • Drivers over 80 are involved in more fatal multivehicle crashes.

Factors That Lead to More Senior Accidents and Injuries

There are reasons that seniors are involved in car crashes and why they suffer more injuries:

  • Close to 70 percent of elderly drivers have some form of arthritis. This can make it difficult to turn or twist when looking for a vehicle behind you.
  • About 75 percent of those over 65 use some type of medication. About 33 percent said they had no idea what effect the medication might have on driving.
  • Gripping the steering wheel may be difficult for elderly drivers due to reduced muscle strength.
  • Limited range of motion, pain and reduced muscle strength can make it difficult to use the brake or accelerator for some older drivers.
  • The onset of dementia can make driving a problem. It is important to talk to a doctor about whether or not the person should still be driving.
  • Elderly drivers are 17 times more likely to die in a crash than drivers under 65.
  • Twelve percent of passengers in a vehicle driven by an older driver are killed.
  • Twenty-eight percent of those killed in an accident with an older driver are pedestrians and bicyclists.
  • Fatal accidents increase after an elderly driver turns 75. An even sharper increase occurs after 80.

Driver Errors Attributable to Elderly Drivers

Some elderly drivers participate in the following driver errors:

  • Driving too slow for traffic. This behavior can cause accidents, particularly on high-speed roads.
  • Getting lost can contribute to motor vehicle crashes.
  • The number of fender benders increases for some older drivers.
  • Maintaining their lane is difficult for some elderly drivers.
  • Older drivers can have a slower response time than younger ones.

Keeping Elderly Drivers Safe

The state of California makes an effort to keep older drivers safe. All drivers over the age of 70 must renew their license in person. This allows the DMV to determine if you are capable of driving. If the senior driver has a medical condition that makes it difficult to drive safely, they may be asked to undergo testing. This includes written, vision and driving tests. A medical history form filled out by the driver and their doctor may be required. The elderly driver examination may include a hearing where the driver may present evidence in their favor. Elderly drivers are often tagged as negligent motor vehicle operators if they accumulate sufficient points. This can result in license suspension.

Sacramento Car Accident Lawyer

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento car accident lawyer. Being involved in an accident with a negligent driver can cause physical and financial hardship. Hiring a lawyer who is experienced in such events can provide the insight you need at this harrowing time. Call me for free and friendly advice at (916) 921-6400 or on my toll-free line at (800) 404-5400. You can also contact me online.

I’ve helped residents for over 37 years with wrongful deaths, car accidents, and pedestrian injuries.

If you want to know more about my practice, go to the following pages.

I belong to the National Association of Distinguished Counsel. This group allows membership of the top tier of lawyers who practice legal excellence. I am also a member of the Million Dollar Advocate. We are a nationwide group of attorneys who have won more than $1 million for a client.

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