The older driver population, which is comprised of licensed drivers age 65 years and above, has significantly increased over the years. In fact, this age group reached 18 percent of all licensed drivers in the U.S. in 2014, compared to only 15 percent in 2005.
Interestingly, as the number of older drivers increases, the likelihood of fatalities in car crashes involving them decreases. This may indicate that the older driver population is responsive to established measures of safe driving. Thus, as the nation aims to curb the overall incident rate of car crashes and fatalities, focusing on the older driver population holds a lot of promise.
In this regard, it is fundamental that older drivers be helped to understand and accept the fact that the functions of the human body change with age. Older drivers should be encouraged to recognize the changes occurring in themselves, and taught how to adjust to those changes.
There are two major changes as people age that affect driver fitness: physical and mental changes. Although these changes are inevitable, older drivers can still maintain their ability to drive when they understand the changes and learn how to adapt.
With physical changes, older people may experience weakening of their muscles, which compromises motor functions. Also, they may have stiffer joints that cause problems with flexibility and reflexes. These are some of the reasons that older people encounter physical challenges as they drive, such as quickly turning the steering wheel, stepping on the brakes, or turning the head to view nearby traffic.
Moreover, as people age, the visual functions deteriorate. Older drivers commonly complain that their vision is not as clear as in their younger years. Also, they experience difficulty adapting to light. While they need more light when driving, their eyes are very sensitive to glare from sunlight, headlights, and streetlights.
Perhaps the most significant driving related deterioration in older drivers is their cognitive functions. In the same way that the aging process weakens the muscles, it also causes deterioration of the brain cells. Thus, an increasing delay in recognition and processing of visual information corresponds with a delay in reaction in older drivers.
To manage these changes, it is not unusual for older people to take medications, but some medications have adverse effects, such as dizziness, blurred vision, or even fainting. Consequently, the use of different medications presents yet another challenge in safe driving among the older population.
None of this information about older drivers is to suggest that they are at fault whenever involved in a crash. Rather, it is to focus on proactive steps that can be taken by those drivers to stay safe in their advancing years.
The Alexander Law Group, LLC represents drivers, passengers and pedestrians of all ages who have been injured in car crashes. Our personal injury lawyers are ready to help you obtain just compensation for your injuries. Contact us online or call 888.777.1776 for a free consultation.