Older Adults At Greater Risk For Car Accidents and Injuries
For older adults and seniors, driving provides a lifeline in terms of maintaining their independence. Activities such as running errands, attending doctor appointments, and visiting family and friends all help to keep them healthy and active, but there is a point where their overall age or a medical condition may put them at increased risk behind the wheel.
Unfortunately, the likelihood of car accidents increases with age, and older adults stand the chance of suffering more severe and potentially life-threatening injuries. To protect their own safety and that of other motorists they may encounter, a time may come where they need to consider restricting or surrendering their driving privileges.
Older Adults and Car Accident Risks
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as the ‘baby boomer’ generation ages, the number of older drivers on the road has increased dramatically. There are currently more than 40 million registered drivers over the age of 65, a number that has increased by more than 50 percent since the late 1990s. Unfortunately, these drivers also face increased risks for car accidents and injuries, which claim the lives of more than 20 seniors each day in the U.S., while causing serious injuries for more than 700 others.
The CDC reports that the odds of being involved in a potentially fatal crash increases once drivers reach the age of 70, and those aged 85 or greater are at the highest risk. Common causes of these accidents include the following:
- Decreased physical and cognitive abilities, such as vision or hearing loss and problems concentrating;
- Increased likelihood of being on medications, which can impair judgement and reflexes;
- Chronic medical conditions that become more common as we age, such as heart conditions, diabetes, and nerve disorders, which have the potential to cause sudden impacts while driving;
- Conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, which can create confusion, particularly when responding to traffic signs and signals.
Keeping Older Loved Ones Safe Behind The Wheel
If you have concerns about a loved one’s driving abilities, it may help to discuss it with other family members or friends. You may be able to arrange for rides to the grocery store, the doctor’s office, or to other event or appointments, reducing the amount of time your loved one is behind the wheel.
Unfortunately, in some cases, older adults may insist on driving even once it becomes obvious their medical condition makes them a danger behind the wheel. In these circumstances, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) offers a way to alert state officials to the situation. You can report suspicions of a medically unsafe driver through a hotline number which allows your name to remain confidential and the FLHSMV will investigate the situation. After looking over their medical records, your loved one may be required to retake their driving exam, or if warranted, their license may be revoked.
While this may seem like a drastic measure, it could help to prevent potentially serious car accidents and injuries from occurring. If an accident does happen, call or contact Gregg Wexler online at the Wexler Law Firm, P.C. and request a free consultation in our West Palm Beach office to see how we can help.