According to Consumer Reports, drivers over the age of 80 are involved in 5.5 times as many fatal crashes, per mile driven, as middle-aged drivers. With more than 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 every single day over the next 18 years, by 2030, seniors will represent almost one in five drivers, outnumbering 16-19 year-olds by more than three to one. As senior drivers begin to lose reaction time, as well as some other abilities necessary to driving, safety risks for all may climb. Although older drivers have experience—something teen drivers do not—and tend to drive much less than younger drivers, consider the following statistics regarding senior drivers:
- About half of all those in their fifties and sixties, and 80 percent of those in their 70’s, suffer from some level of inflammation of the joints (arthritis), which can make some normal driving maneuvers painful;
- A full three-quarters of those over the age of 65 take one or more prescription medications, however only about a third of those taking these prescription drugs understand the potential impact on their driving abilities;
- Senior drivers may suffer from reduced flexibility, which could potentially restrict their ability to grip and turn the steering wheel or press on the brake or gas pedals;
- Senior drivers are more likely than younger drivers to be involved in a multi-vehicle crash;
- Senior drivers are more likely than younger drivers to be involved in intersection collisions;
- A 60-year old requires ten times the light to see at night as a 19-year old, meaning night driving for seniors may be particularly hazardous;
- More than a third of those over the age of 65 have significant levels of hearing loss which can be a hazard when driving;
- Processing time, judgment and concentration can be diminished with age, making it difficult to multi-task, more likely for seniors to be subject to distractions, and reducing the ability to process information quickly, and
- While older drivers are less likely to drink and drive than other adult drivers, there were still 7 percent of older drivers involved in fatal car collisions who had a BAC over the legal limit.
“Gas-Pedal” Accidents Much More Common Among Senior Drivers
Further, older drivers are much more likely to be involved in “gas pedal” accidents, which occur when the driver accidentally steps on the gas pedal instead of the brake. A government study done for the NHTSA in 2012, by the Highway Safety Research Center at the University of North Carolina, concluded that accidents in which drivers mistakenly hit the gas pedal instead of the brake overwhelmingly tend to involve older drivers, particularly older female drivers in parking lots. In 2003, one of the most tragic gas-pedal accidents occurred in Santa Monica, California, when an 86-year old male driver, who intended to brake, accidentally stepped on the gas pedal, plowing through an open-air market, killing ten pedestrians and injuring 63.
Does the State of Alabama Regulate Older Drivers?
Although some states require older drivers to renew their driver’s license more often after a certain age, or take more frequent eye and driving tests in order to maintain a license, the state of Alabama treats older drivers no differently than any other driver. While we want to believe that the older driver (or the family of the driver) will realize when he or she is no longer able to drive safely, and voluntarily stop driving, in fact mobility is a huge issue for senior drivers. Driving gives elderly drivers a sense of independence and autonomy, which can be difficult to give up, or to take away. On the flip side, there comes a point for many senior drivers, where they are a danger to themselves, as well as other drivers sharing the roadways.
Were You Hit By a Senior Driver?
If you were hit by an at-fault senior driver in the state of Alabama, it could be extremely beneficial for you to speak to an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Speaking to an attorney regarding your accident could help you recover the financial compensation you are entitled to, if an elderly driver acted in a negligent manner, causing property damage and injuries. A knowledgeable attorney from Martinson & Beason can help you, whether you were injured by an elderly driver or you lost a loved one due to the negligence of a senior driver. Our attorneys will be your advocate, ensuring your rights are fully protected in the aftermath of your accident. For a comprehensive evaluation of your automobile accident, call Martinson & Beason today—your prompt action could prevent a future accident involving the same elderly driver.