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Are You Aware of the Risks Facing Older Drivers?

The holiday season is officially upon us, meaning the volume of traffic here in Tennessee and across the U.S. is only going to increase in the coming weeks as more people make trips to shop, attend holiday parties, visit loved ones and perform other seasonal errands.

One group of motorists that will undoubtedly be out on the roads and highways in greater numbers during the course of the holiday season will be seniors. To get a picture of just how many, consider that statistics from the federal government reveal that the number of licensed drivers over the age of 65 currently sits at more than 36 million.

While it’s encouraging to see that so many of our nation’s seniors are still self-reliant in terms of transportation, it would be a mistake to ignore the fact that with advanced age comes an increased road safety risk.

Aren’t older drivers supposed to be less likely to be involved in fatal car accidents?

While it’s true that older drivers are less likely to lose their lives in car accidents than other age groups owing to the simple fact that they drive less, they are also far more likely to be killed in vehicle crashes given their physical vulnerability.

Indeed, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has determined that drivers 70 years old and over are 3.2 times more likely to perish in a motor vehicle accident than their 35-54 year-old counterparts.

Do changes in physical and mental abilities brought on by the aging process play any sort of role in road safety?

Absolutely. In fact, research has shown that senior drivers are especially vulnerable when it comes to the execution of complicated driving maneuvers like merging onto highways or navigating busy intersections.

Consider that the IIHS found that multi-vehicle wrecks at intersections were responsible for as much as 40 percent of all fatal accidents among drivers 80 and older in 2013 as compared with only 19 percent of drivers between the ages of 16-59.

Are there any tools available to help mitigate some of this risk to older drivers?

The AARP has been providing driving safety classes for members since 1979, teaching attendees about everything from recognizing their own limitations to understanding how vehicle safety technology has evolved.

We’ll continue this discussion in our next post, examining some important safety tips for older drivers to keep in mind as they hit the road in the coming weeks. In the meantime, please consider speaking with an experienced legal professional if you or a loved one have been injured in an accident caused by a negligent motorist.