Do your risks of a vehicle accident go up as you get older? Older drivers typically have more experience behind the wheel than younger drivers, but that does not mean they have a lower risk of accidents. For every mile behind the wheel, elderly drivers are at greater risk of having a fatal accident than other demographics. At particular risk are drivers over the age of 80. This demographic has a higher rate of automobile accident deaths than teenagers and adults under the age of 30.
Nationwide, America's population is growing older. In 2006, there were 37.6 million Americans over the age of 65; as of 2015, there were 47.76 million. In 2006, drivers over the age of 65 were involved in 5,996 fatal accidents which caused 6,045 fatalities. In 2015, 6,165 drivers over the age of 65 died in automobile accidents and a 240,000 more were injured.
Alcohol plays a significant role in the fatality rate for older drivers. In 2015, 8% of drivers within this demographic had BAC levels in excess of .08. Further, data from the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence shows that 2.5 million elderly Americans have drug or alcohol dependencies.
Dizziness and other balance issues also play a role. Elderly drivers typically have slower reflexes which delay reaction times. Those small seconds can add up quickly and cause an accident.
Similarly, prescription drugs increase the risk of having a vehicle accident. It is estimated that there are more than 17 million mind and reflex altering prescriptions filled each year for elderly Americans. The use of these drugs affects reflexes and judgment which can lead to an accident.
Failing vision is also a significant factor in causing fatalities in a vehicle accident. According to the Vision Council of America, 75% of Americans wear either contacts or eyeglasses. States that require vision testing to renew a driver's license have fewer accident fatality rates than states who don't. Failing vision leads to problems with depth perception, the ability to read signage, and the ability to see persons and other vehicles in the roadway.
Technology is helping save the lives of elderly drivers. In 2014, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety released a report covering accident and fatality statistics from 1997 to 2012. The report showed fatality rates for older drivers declined by 42% per licensed driver during this period. This decline occurred even as drivers over the age of 75 increased the miles driven each year by more than 50 from 1995-2008. The decline in fatality and injury rates for elderly drivers was the largest decline of any demographic and due in part to advances in automobile safety technology such as crash avoidance systems, ABS brakes, seat belts, smart airbags, etc.
Brad Pistotnik represents drivers involved in a vehicle accident in Topeka, Wichita, Lawrence, and cities throughout Kansas, Illinois, and Nebraska. Drivers involved in an accident can pursue claims for lost wages, medical expenses, physical therapy, and other expenses that arise when recovering from an automobile accident.
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