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Are older drivers really a menace on the roads?

There are many ways to interpret statistics. For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that 16 senior citizens died in car crashes every day in 2014 and that 648 became hurt daily. In fact, drivers 85 and older are most likely to get involved in a fatality, with the risk increasing noticeably when they turn 70.

Some people look at these numbers and their personal experience and conclude that many older drivers are unfit to be on roads. Their aging has rendered them unable to drive safely. This is true in some cases. However, much of the increased risk may come from the fact that older people’s bodies are frailer. When a crash does occur, factors such as weaker bones or medical complications make it likelier that an older person will suffer an injury or die.

Common characteristics of elderly drivers

When people retire, many changes occur in their lives. They may actually drive more. Their daily commutes are gone, and instead they can visit friends and family all over the country. They can make day trips and multiple local trips a day. Many older drivers tend to skip highways in favor of local roads that have lower speed limits. Some make a point to drive only in high visibility (no nighttime driving, for example). Quite a few older adults do know their weaknesses and limits.

The effects of old age on driving ability

Others, however, do not recognize their limitations. For example, they may be in denial of how much their decreasing vision is compromising everyone’s safety on the roads. They might have no idea that their reaction time has slowed and that they are much slower to press down on the brakes. A good number could be on medication that mixes badly with just a small amount of alcohol. Some might have dementia and little awareness that they have just committed a hit and run.

Overall, many older drivers are not a menace on the roads. However, that is cold comfort if you or a loved one has been injured by someone who had no business driving. An attorney can help you through the process.

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