Older Drivers and Automobile Accidents

With America’s population aging, there are more reports of traffic accidents involving older or elderly drivers.  These days, it is common to hear that a senior adult has been the victim or the cause of an automobile accident.

Elderly Drivers And Accidents

Automobile Accidents in FloridaAccording to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), in 2012, there were approximately 23.1 million licensed drivers 70 and older in the United States. This group made up about 11 percent of all licensed drivers.

Since 1997, the number of licensed drivers 70 years old and older has increased by 30 percent. The population of older drivers is getting larger because older people are keeping their driver’s licenses longer and, as baby boomers age, they make up a larger portion of the US population.

In terms of fatalities, IIHS data suggests that older drivers are more likely to injure themselves and their passengers in the event of a crash. In 2012, approximately 75 percent of those killed in crashes involving a driver 70 years old or older were either the older driver or his/her older passenger.

Common Crashes Involving Senior Drivers

Senior drivers are more likely to be involved in certain types of crashes, when compared with younger drivers. Common crashes involving older drivers include angle crashes, overtaking or merging crashes, and intersection crashes.

However, failure to yield the right-of-way has been found to be the most common error among seniors. The primary reason for failure-to-yield varies by age group. Drivers age 70-79 years old were more likely to misjudge whether they had sufficient time to proceed. Drivers age 80 and older generally failed to yield the right of way because they failed to see the other vehicle.

News stories of senior car crashes often involve situations where the older driver confused the gas pedal with the brake pedal. For example, an 88-year-old woman recently crashed her car into a Lake Worth automotive business when she mistakenly hit the gas pedal as she was pulling out of a grocery store parking lot.

According to the news report, the woman sped across a street after accidentally hitting the gas pedal, reaching 45-50 mph before hitting the building and almost striking the owner of the automotive business. The elderly driver of the vehicle was taken to Delray Medical Center in critical condition and, tragically, her 90-year-old husband was killed in the accident.

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Danger Signs For Older Drivers

Many seniors are excellent drivers, but some are not. As indicated by one source, recognizing the signs of that an older adult has become an unsafe driver is the first step in preventing older adult driving accidents. Some signs that a senior may be an unsafe driver include:

– getting lost more often than he or she use to while driving;

– stopping at green lights and running red lights without realizing it;

– leaving the turn signal on indefinitely;

– difficulty watching for and interpreting traffic signals;

– changing lanes suddenly and without looking;

– nervousness or fear when driving;

– exhaustion after driving;

– experiencing an increasing number of near-collisions;

– experiencing an increasing number of dents, scratches, or fender-benders; and

– having people say they no longer want to be a passenger with the older driver.

Helping Unsafe Senior Drivers Stop Driving

Driving is about independence as much as it is about transportation and most seniors are reluctant to give up this valuable privilege. Having a conversation with an older adult about giving up driving can be difficult, but many resources are available to help with this sensitive topic. One popular one is Helpguide: Senior Citizen Driving: Warning Signs and Helping an Unsafe Driver to Stop Driving

Under certain circumstances, the State of Florida may require that a person undergo a re-examination of his or her driving skills based on factors which can include the driver’s physical or mental condition or the driver’s driving record. A re-examination may be recommended by a family member, a physician or emergency medical technician, or by a peace officer by using the state’s medical reporting form.

Palm Beach Legal Help For Car Crash Victims

If your family is dealing with a West Palm Beach car accident involving an older adult or senior, the personal injury lawyers and wrongful death attorneys at the law firm of Scott J. Sternberg & Associates, P.A. can help. Call us today at (561) 288-9096 or contact us online for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights.

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