Older Drivers on the Road October 12, 2020
The CDC counted nearly 44 million licensed drivers age 65 or above in 2017, representing a 63% increase since the agency’s previous count in 1999. Crash risks increase as a person ages, but older individuals can take useful steps to keep themselves and others safe on the road.
Crash Data: Risk Factors
Emergency departments treat approximately 257,000 older adults for crash-related injuries. And, another 7,700 die in deadly motor vehicle accidents every year. That means that each day, 20 people 65-years-old and older lose their lives and 700 others sustain injuries in dangerous auto accidents. According to the CDC, certain risk factors affect a person’s chances for getting into a crash. These risk factors include:
- Males have a significantly higher death rate than females
- Individuals age 75 and older have higher crash death rates than drivers between the ages of 35 and 54-years-old. The CDC says that the higher death rates are primarily a result of the physical vulnerability for injury that older individuals have
- Health problems. Older people may experience a decline in cognitive functioning (e.g. the ability to remember and reason), vision problems, hearing loss, or physical ailments that compromise their ability to operate a vehicle
Ways to Prevent Auto Accidents
Even medical conditions like arthritis or generalized joint stiffness and pain can get in the way of someone driving safely. Luckily, there are measures that can mitigate some of the known risk factors that older individuals regularly face. The National Institute on Aging, or NIA, recommends that older people with arthritis or joint pain drive cars with automatic – not manual – transmissions, power brakes, power steering, and large mirrors. Having these features can limit unnecessary and potentially painful movement like twisting and bending.
Keeping active and exercising regularly are also great ways to improve strength and flexibility and can work together to reduce generalized joint and muscle pain that sometimes get in the way of driving. Older drivers can also prevent accidents from happening by taking the following precautions:
- Wear a seat belt every time you are in a car, regardless of whether you are a driver or a passenger
- If possible, only drive in safe weather and visibility conditions. For example, do not drive in inclement weather (e.g. rain, ice or snow) and try to drive during the daytime. Driving at night increases chances for a crash
- Never drink and drive, and make sure that any over-the-counter or prescription medications you may be taking do not adversely affect your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle
- Be sure to see an eye doctor every year. If you need glasses or contact lenses, ensure that your prescription is up-to-date
- If you have serious leg problems, you may want to consider getting hand controls installed for accelerating and braking
- People over the age of 50 should have their hearing checked every three years
- Leave extra space between your car and a car in front of you. Brake early to prevent a collision and avoid heavily trafficked areas. If you are on the highway, always drive in the right lane
Driving is a great way to stay mobile and independent. If you are 65-years-old or older, it is a good idea to have a conversation with your doctor about what steps you can take to stay safe behind the wheel. If you are concerned about your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle, you can have a trained professional (such as an occupational therapist or a driving rehabilitation specialist) check your driving skills and offer recommendations. Another option includes taking a defensive driving course, which may lower your auto insurance rate.
Even when people take precautions, accidents still happen. If you were injured in an automobile accident and want to learn more about filing a legal claim to help cover medical expenses and lost wages, someone at our firm can help. Contact a representative online now.
Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP Represent Victims of Automobile Accidents
Galfand Berger has offices located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. To schedule a consultation, call us at 800-222-8792 or complete our online contact form.