What Are Common Causes of Accidents in Older Drivers?

A study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that older drivers have higher rates of car accident fatalities than any other age group. While this does not mean that every senior driver should have their license taken away, there are limitations that older drivers should be aware of that can increase the risk of a car accident. In addition, there are proactive steps that they can take to stay safe.

According to the CDC, in 2020, there were close to 48 million licensed drivers over 65 in the United States. However, that same year, approximately 7,500 older adults were fatally injured in car accidents, and nearly 200,000 suffered injuries that required treatment in an emergency department. This statistic does not include the injuries suffered by the other motorists involved in the accident. The following are examples of common causes of car accidents involving older motorists:

  • Slower reflexes: Older drivers have slower reflexes, which means they are less able to react quickly to avoid a potentially hazardous situation, like being cut off by another driver or another vehicle changing lanes without signaling.
  • Confusing the pedals: Older drivers are more likely to become confused and mistake the gas and the brake pedals.
  • Vision loss: Deteriorating vision is common. However, if an older driver starts to have trouble seeing things when driving at night, cannot read road signs, or sees objects on the road, this can lead to a severe accident.
  • Memory loss: This can cause older drivers to become confused about certain driving operations like using signals, how to navigate a traffic circle, or turning the wrong way down a one-way street.
  • Medications: Older drivers often take medication for various health issues. Certain medications cause drowsiness or other side effects that can impair one’s driving ability.
  • General health problems: Poor health can affect older drivers’ ability to concentrate, physically operate a vehicle, and safely navigate traffic.

How Can Accidents Involving Older Drivers Be Prevented?

If you have an older family member or loved one who is showing signs of aging that you think may be impacting their ability to operate a motor vehicle safely, it may be time to address the issue and discuss steps that can be taken, including:

  • Schedule an appointment to have their eyesight checked. Sometimes, an older driver’s prescription simply needs to be updated. More serious conditions, like macular degeneration, may warrant a discussion about driving privileges.
  • Get regular physicals. This will ensure your loved one’s physical and mental health is monitored closely.
  • Talk to a healthcare provider about medications. A doctor or a pharmacist can review the medications that a loved one is taking and determine whether there are any potentially unsafe side effects, like drowsiness, confusion, or nausea, that could affect their ability to drive.
  • Avoid driving at night or during inclement weather. Visibility becomes an issue at night, and inclement weather can cause diving conditions to become hazardous. For older drivers, this can be highly hazardous and increase the risk of a car accident.

Savannah Car Wreck Lawyers at Kicklighter Law Represent Victims of Car Accidents

Contact our Savannah car wreck lawyers at Kicklighter Law if you were involved in a car accident. To schedule a consultation, call 912-754-6003 or contact us online. Located in Springfield, Georgia, we serve clients in Effingham County, Savannah, and the surrounding areas.