Older Drivers and the Risks They Pose

As the population of California continues to age, driving habits on the state's roads have changed. Fortunately, research and experience both indicate that responsible drivers can continue operating their vehicles safely to a very advanced age, so long as they take reasonable precautions and recognize their evolving limitations.

Approximately 36 million people aged 65 or older held driver's licenses around the country in 2012. This represents a 34 percent increase from 1999. Fatal crashes are noted to increase as the years progress, with a large statistical jump around ages 70-74 and a second jump around age 85. However, experts note that these fatalities are not generally due to a tendency towards getting in more crashes, but the increasing fragility of the human system means that the older drivers are more likely to die.

Researchers have noted that elderly drivers are notably safe drivers. They are found to drive fewer miles and to be more likely drive during daylight hours and when conditions were safest. They are also less likely to drink while impaired by alcohol and more likely to wear seat belts than younger adult drivers.

A car crash caused by an elderly driver can often leave others seriously injured and facing high medical expenses. In some cases, injured victims are unable to return to work for prolonged periods and thus lose the wages that they otherwise would have earned. An attorney for such a victim can review the accident investigation report and other evidence in order to determine whether the crash was caused by the negligence of the elderly motorist. If so, then it may be advisable to file a personal injury lawsuit seeking compensation for the losses that have been sustained.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Older Adult Drivers", May 27, 2015

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