When most people think of individuals who are most likely to be involved in serious car accidents, their thoughts turn to teenagers. Since this group is inexperienced behind the wheel, statistics do show they account for the majority of car accidents in the United States. However, what surprises many people is finding out senior citizens behind the wheel account for the second-highest number of car accidents. While considered safe and experienced drivers, seniors also have a number of factors working against them.
Are Senior Drivers Safe?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 7,400 senior citizens were killed in car accidents in 2016 and more than 290,000 were injured. According to researchers, one of the biggest factors in this is that people often continue to drive past the age when they can do so safely. On average, senior citizens continue to drive for up to 10 years past when they should turn in their keys. In many cases, this is due to family members being hesitant to discuss the subject or take actions to prevent their loved ones from driving. Unfortunately, this often results in serious if not fatal accidents. If you or a loved one has been injured due to a senior driver, discuss your situation with the Eichholz Law Firm.
Why Do Seniors Have So Many Accidents?
As these drivers get older, they deal with weakened muscles and decreased flexibility. As a result, many tasks associated with driving a vehicle, such as turning the steering wheel, pushing the brake and gas pedals, and accurately checking blind spots can become more difficult. Along with this, many seniors who are on medication for various illnesses and conditions do not realize how these medications can potentially impair their ability to drive. Finally, poor vision, hearing loss, and cognitive issues that make it harder to make decisions or react quickly can play a part in the number of accidents.
Increased Risk of Injury
When people think of being injured in a car accident, they automatically assume the accident occurred while the vehicle was traveling at a high rate of speed. However, with accidents involving senior drivers, that is not always the case. In fact, studies show that senior drivers are equally likely to suffer serious injuries in accidents that occur at either high or low speeds. With many seniors dealing with fragile bones from osteoporosis, it becomes much easier for these drivers to suffer broken bones in what may be viewed as a minor accident. In addition to this, many of these drivers also suffer from health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease, which can lead to difficulties in recovering from car accident injuries.
How Can Seniors Stay Safe Behind the Wheel?
While drivers of all ages should take precautions while behind the wheel, senior drivers should make it a priority to take certain steps to ensure their safety while on the road. For example, since most of these drivers deal with poor vision and decreased reaction times behind the wheel, it is best to limit driving to daytime hours and to do so only in good weather conditions. Other ways to avoid senior car accidents include:
- Planning one’s route ahead of time
- Trying to avoid high-traffic areas with higher speed limits
- Keeping safe stopping distances of at least three car lengths between vehicles at all times
If a driver feels ill or impaired prior to getting behind the wheel, it is best to postpone the trip. In these situations, seniors should not be afraid to ask someone else to drive them to their destination, or if necessary take public transportation.
What if I Am Involved in an Accident with a Senior Driver?
If you are involved in a car accident involving a senior driver, do not automatically assume the law will be on your side. In many situations, drivers instantly assume that since the other driver is older, the accident is naturally their fault. However, just as it is with any car accident, evidence will be the deciding factor in determining who was at fault. Because of this, always schedule a consultation as quickly as possible with the Eichholz Law Firm to discuss the details of your accident. By doing so, you can get an objective evaluation of your accident.
The car accident attorney will gather important evidence related to your case, such as police reports, medical records, and eyewitness testimony regarding the accident. If possible, it is always best if you are able to take photos or videos of the accident scene, since this will show damage to vehicles, property damage, road conditions, and other factors that may help determine the outcome of your case.
Beware of Insurance Companies
If you are an elderly driver or have an elderly family member who was involved in an accident, beware of insurance companies. Since the goal of an insurance company is to pay out as little as possible or perhaps nothing at all in these cases, they will do everything possible to get an elderly driver to admit the accident was their fault. Unfortunately, since many elderly drivers have cognitive issues, it can be very easy for an insurance company representative to get them confused about the circumstances surrounding the accident. As a result, they can often get the person to say things that can be used against them, leading to a denial of their claim.
It is always best to work with attorneys from the Eichholz Law Firm so that they can handle any negotiations with insurance companies.
When you are involved in a car accident involving an elderly driver, it is nevertheless still important for you to seek compensation for your injuries.
By working with attorneys from the Eichholz Law Firm, you will have a better chance at gaining the financial compensation needed to cover:
- Current and future medical expenses
- Lost wages from being unable to work
- Pain and suffering associated with your injuries
If you have been injured or have had a loved one injured or killed due to an elderly driver who never should have been behind the wheel, let the Eichholz Law Firm assist you with your case.
Call 855-551-1019 or fill out an online form for a free case consultation.
- CDC. “Older Adult Drivers”, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/older_adult_drivers/index.html. Accessed August 1, 2019.
- Insurance Information Institute. “Background on: Older drivers”, https://www.iii.org/article/background-on-older-drivers. Accessed August 1, 2019.
- AAA. “Facts & Research”, American Automobile Association, https://seniordriving.aaa.com/resources-family-friends/conversations-about-driving/facts-research/. Accessed August 1, 2019.