With the Baby Boomer generation reaching retirement age, a large section of the U.S. population is comprised of older people. By 2029, when all the baby boomers will have reached 65, more than 20 percent of the total population will be over the age of 65. Having such a huge section of our population in retirement age poses interesting concerns for the years to come.
One major concern is the aging population of drivers. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were almost 36 million licensed older drivers in 2012; a 34 percent increase from 1999. Older drivers can pose a difficult dilemma: On one hand, many people live well into retirement and for some, once they hit 65 they still have over 20 years of life left to live. On the other hand, there are a number of reasons older drivers are more likely to be a danger on the roads.
Reasons for Concern
As drivers age, their risks behind the wheel increase. While these drivers are more experienced than their counterparts, their own bodies may be calling for an end to their days on the road. While the fatality rate for drivers over age 65 increases significantly, the real increase happens for drivers over the age of 75. People age 75 to 84 are just as likely as teen drivers to die in crashes, and people over age 85 are nearly four times more likely to die in car accidents than their teenage counterparts.
Drivers of any age can be dangerous. They can be distracted, inebriated or otherwise compromised. But for senior drivers, there are a number of factors contributing to an increase in danger, including:
- Mental: As they age, some people’s memory begins to suffer and brain function decreases. This can lead to many different potential dangers while on the road, such as becoming confused or distracted. There are cases of elderly drivers becoming disoriented while driving and hitting the gas pedal when they mean to hit the brakes.
- Physical: With age comes a reduction in physical ability. Some people become more frail and less able to complete quick fluid maneuvers. Aging bodies may also be less likely to be able to fully turn their neck in order to view oncoming traffic.
- Visual: Anyone who turns 50 and suddenly needs readers understands that vision can be affected by age. Older drivers are more likely to have vision problems or eye disorders, such as cataracts.
- Reaction Time: Accidents can happen at any time. A split second can make all the difference when the car in front of you slams on their brakes or that van pulls out in front of you. Seniors may have reduced reaction time and be less likely to respond quickly to avoid collision.
Older drivers can have a harder time yielding, maintaining their lane, and stopping in time. These small errors can lead to accidents, injuries and even death.
Older individuals are more likely to be seriously injured or die in a wreck. These individuals are more likely than younger drivers to sustain severe injuries to the extremities or head. A physically frail person is also less likely to be able to survive and make a full recovery from their injuries. Researchers found that injuries that typically have a short recovery time for younger people may lead to chronic pain and disability for seniors.
Not All Bad News
While some senior drivers may pose a threat to other drivers on the road, it’s not all bad news. Older drivers are more likely to use seat belts, are more likely to drive only in safe conditions by avoiding the dark or inclement weather, and are less likely to drink and drive than other adults. There are steps older drivers can take to lower the risk of traffic accidents, including:
- Exercising regularly to maintain strength and flexibility;
- Being aware of potential drug-interactions or side-effects that could impair driving;
- Having regular physicals and eye exams;
- Avoiding driving at night or in low light when visibility is an issue; and
- Planning a route beforehand that is known and free of unsafe or difficult intersections.
The Risk of Driving Beyond Your Years
Drivers who knowingly continue to drive even when they are no longer fit to do so can be a danger to themselves and others. This increased risk of traffic accident and fatalities is a serious issue and should not be ignored. While it may be difficult to admit that you or a loved one is no longer fit to be driving, taking a single driver off the road could save lives and prevent potential lawsuits.
Contact an Experienced Greenville Personal Injury Attorney if you have been involved in an Automobile Accident
No one likes to admit that they can no longer safely drive on the road but failure to heed warning signs puts everyone at risk, including passengers, other drivers and pedestrians. When you are injured due to someone else’s negligence or recklessness, you need to consult with an experienced Greenville automobile accident attorney. Consult with the attorneys at David R. Price, Jr., P.A.. They can help give you the guidance and advice you need to prepare your case for settlement and court to ensure that you get the best recovery available. Contact them today to evaluate your case.