Key Points of This Article:
- The Federal Highway Administration reports that older drivers, persons aged 65-years-of-age and up, are involved in more motor vehicle fatalities than any other driving group, except for drivers under age 20.
- As a person ages, conditions such as arthritis and glaucoma, and diseases such as early dementia and diabetes may make it more difficult for a driver to operate a motor vehicle safely.
- Self-awareness can be slower for older populations, and aging drivers may not realize the actual road risk they pose when they get behind the wheel.
- Older drivers cause accidents most often by missing traffic lights and signs at busy intersections, driving the wrong way, and pose extra dangers by driving impaired by medications or when vision is hindered.
9 Common Causes of Elderly Driving Accidents
Health and safety officials at the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) are reporting data and crash facts that support motor vehicle crash trends in a growing, aging “baby boomer” population. The higher accident rates are related to more older drivers on the road who practice unsafe driving and have less self-awareness in recognizing changes in traffic laws and individual impairments. Some senior drivers may also have weaker muscles, reduced flexibility, and have a limited range of motion, take more prescription medications that make them drowsy or impaired, and some may suffer from vision disruptions.
As younger drivers are more likely to cause an accident by speeding or driving recklessly, elderly drivers most often cause crashes for one of nine reasons.
- Driving through a red light or stop sign
- Making improper left turns in front of motorcycles or bicyclists
- Driving too slow or far below the speed limit
- Disrupting the flow of traffic by braking unexpectedly and following too close
- Misjudging distances and improper lane change
- Driving the wrong way on roads or through parking lots
- Failing to yield to pedestrians at crosswalks and intersections
- Choosing to operate a motor vehicle although it is hard to see during dusk, dawn, or nighttime hours
- Distractions caused by health conditions
While we are respectful of an older person’s life experiences and their right to drive, we are also mindful of the additional crash risks they could be posing on other road users, unknowingly. If you were hurt and injured in a car accident caused by an older driver, you may have mixed emotions in pursuing a case, and we understand those sensitivities. But it still would be best if you gathered as much information as you can about why the driver was at fault for causing the collision and collect evidence to show their carelessness behind the wheel. You deserve to recover from your injuries and should not have to carry any financial burdens because another driver chose to be reckless.
Like in any motor vehicle crash investigation and when making an accident injury claim, a Kentucky car accident injury lawyer at Rhoads & Rhoads can work to obtain driving records and gather information regarding any physical and psychological capabilities present in the driver responsible for the crash. Testimony from the elderly individual’s family members regarding concerns about their loved one’s driving before the accident will also be helpful. There is often a trail that shows the person’s family had attempted to take away a driver’s license due to concerns over physical or mental impairments, but sometimes an motor vehicle accident followed by legal action is the only way to truly get them off the road.
Free Resources for Families of Older Drivers
Talking with an older driver may feel uncomfortable, especially if the driver is a parent. But there are steps you can take to request the help of others to keep everyone car accident free. If you are concerned about an elderly driver in your life, the personal injury team at Rhoads & Rhoads has put together this resource list for you.
- ChORUS: The Clearinghouse for Older Road User Safety (ChORUS) offers comprehensive resources for caregivers and older drivers.
- AARP 55 ALIVE Mature Driving Course: This mature driving course is online, and 9 out of 10 participants changed or identified at least one older driving bad behavior due to what they learned in the class.
- Center for Disease Control: Download and use the CDC’s MyMobility Planto make a plan to stay mobile and independent as you age.
- The Kentucky Department for Aging and Independent Living (DAIL):DAIL helps elders work within their local community aging programs to identify services that will accommodate changing transportation needs such as city bus routes, shuttles services offered by senior centers and churches, and lessons on how to safely access taxi cabs, and Uber and Lyft driver services.
Another fantastic way to identify an older driver’s capabilities is with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) online screening program. The NHTSA tool is easy to access and involves answering a series of safe driver screening questions at a time convenient for you. A sampling of the questions included look like this.
- Are they getting lost on routes that should be familiar?
- Have you noticed new dents or scratches to the vehicle?
- Have they received a ticket for a driving violation?
- Have they experienced a near-miss or crash recently?
- Have they been advised to limit/stop driving due to a health reason?
- Are they overwhelmed by road signs and markings while driving?
- Are they taking any medication that might affect driving safely?
- Have they received a ticket for impaired driving?
- Have you noticed them speeding or driving too slowly for no reason?
- Are they suffering from any illnesses that may affect driving skills?
The NHTSA says, “If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, be prepared to take steps appropriate to the situation.” Also, in more extreme cases, the Division of Driver Licensing in Kentucky accepts information from physicians, city or county officials, police, or citizens familiar with a driver’s abilities who are concerned about unsafe driving. The form needs to be filed by two citizens, accompanied by a notary signed affidavit.
For Those Injured in a Kentucky Car Accident Caused by an Aging Driver
Rhoads & Rhoads attorneys have successfully prosecuted auto accidents caused by elderly drivers where other motorists, passengers, and pedestrians have been injured or killed. If the elderly driver who caused the accident should not have been driving or was reckless in their driving choices, the injured and their family may be entitled to compensation to cover related medical costs, income loss, and recovery needs.
If you have been involved or injured in a crash caused by an at-fault aging driver, please call us and we can help you understand the legal options available. We offer free initial consultations, and all cases are taken on a contingency fee basis. This means there is no payment required upfront, and there is NO RISK involved. Call to reach us in either our Madisonville or Owensboro office at 888-709-9329.