Older Drivers Have the Highest Rate of Deadly Crashes

An article published in the San Francisco Chronicle points out that the number of older drivers on U.S. roads is higher now than ever before. Researchers also predict that baby boomers will cover more miles and keep their licenses longer than the generations before them.

With more senior drivers on the roads now, there are concerns about the safety of these senior drivers, and the safety of other drivers and pedestrians. Our car crash lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm have seen a great deal of research showing that older drivers cause the highest rate of lethal crashes.

The debate surrounding senior drivers and senior driver requirements heated up following a serious car accident in Los Angeles last month that involved a 100-year old driver. As NBC4 reported, the accident happened when a driver collided with a group of children while backing out of a supermarket parking spot near a school. Four of the children were severely injured in the accident.

Safety Issues

Studies show that drivers over the age of 85 cause the highest number of deadly crashes per mile, overtaking teen drivers. Frequently, it is found that these senior drivers are themselves victims of the crash, mainly because they’re too weak to survive the injuries. It’s not that senior drivers are less safe than the younger ones. A lot of older people have health problems such as slower reflexes, arthritis and use of multiple medications, which can affect their driving.

The National Institutes of Health noted that older drivers find it challenging to handle intersections, merging or changing lanes and left turns, owing to poor reaction times and gradual vision deterioration.

To combat the problem of elderly driver dangers, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has planned countrywide-applicable guidelines for older driver safety. If finalized, states would be pressed to be more consistent. Two of the recommendations are compulsory in-person renewal of driver’s licenses after a specific age, and protection of physicians from lawsuits if they report a potentially unsafe driver.

By planning ahead, older drivers can play it safe longer. Take the example of a 69-year- old Illinois man who noticed that at this age, it was difficult for him to check his car’s blind spots or even turn the car. Performing these maneuvers wasn’t a problem when he was 50. So he joined a refresher driving course with his wife. At the AARP course, the man learned exercises to improve his flexibility to examine the blind spots.

More Vision Testing and More Frequent Renewals

Older drivers now face a confusing and taxing range of license laws that vary by state. Illinois arguably has the nation’s strictest elderly driver laws. Requirements that older drivers have to meet range from more vision testing to renewing licenses more often than their younger counterparts.

For example, Illinois calls for a road test with every license renewal starting at the age of 75. From the age of 81, renewals have to be done every two years and from the age of 87, every year. In Missouri, the frequency of renewals changes from every six years to every three years starting at the age of 70. In Iowa, 70-year-olds have to renew every two years rather than every five.

Car crashes are very common in the US. If you or a loved one has been involved in a senior driver accident or any type of car accident, you should contact an Illinois auto accident lawyer to fight for and win the compensation that you deserve.