A Hard Look at the Facts
Feel a pang of worry every time Grandma or Granddad gets behind the wheel? It’s understandable. Senior drivers make up 18 percent of all traffic fatalities, and, except for teen drivers, senior drivers have the highest fatality rate per mile driven. However, it may not be time to wrestle the keys from them just yet says Phoenix personal injury lawyer Doug Zanes.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports that car-crash fatalities have significantly decreased among older drivers during the past 18 years. Among drivers age 70 and older, the rate of fatal crashes dropped by 42 percent between 1997 and 2012. Moreover, fewer seniors were involved as drivers in fatal collisions between 1998 and 2016, even though the population of senior drivers grew by 33 percent during this period.
What may account for this decrease?
As Anne McCartt, senior vice president at IIHS, told USAToday.com,“One factor we think is very likely at work is that vehicles are safer, and there’s some evidence that some of the safety features on newer vehicles have benefited older drivers.” Senior drivers also tend to travel fewer miles than other age groups, and they often drive more frequently in the city, which has higher crash rates than other types of roads, such as freeways or multi-divided lanes.
Senior drivers also tend to be safer drivers than other age groups, in that they are more likely to use their seatbelts, observe the speed limit and refrain from drinking and driving. On the whole, seniors are only 16 percent more likely than other adults to cause a crash.
That said, increasing driving risks do come with age. Per mile traveled, the IIHS says that crash death rates among senior drivers increase starting from age 75 and jump after age 80. However, this rise isn’t because seniors are more likely to cause crashes, but because they have an increased risk of injury and medical complications following an accident.
If you are debating with a senior driver over whether he should continue driving, ask him to take the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s self-assessment test. It may help bring the driver’s attention to issues he hadn’t noticed or overlooked.
The IIHS suggests that improving the visibility of road signs, traffic signals and pavement markings could lessen the crash risk for seniors and all drivers. Traffic safety experts have noted that intersections pose a particular problem for seniors, and adding a dedicated left-turn-only lane can reduce injury crashes from drivers 65 and older.
If you or loved one who is a senior driver is involved in a car accident, contact Zanes Law at (844) 9260-3753 for a free consultation. We can give you insight about how to handle insurance companies, obtain fair compensation and feel more in control.
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