Car Accident

A 79-year-old Goldendale woman was driving northbound on Highway 97 when she failed to yield to oncoming traffic as she turned onto Simcoe Rd. A car going south hit her. Emergency responders took both drivers to a local hospital following the accident. The hospital stabilized and then had to transfer the elderly woman to another hospital. Meanwhile, they were able to treat and later release the other driver. The Washington State Patrol are expected to cite the woman for failure to yield.

Baby Boomers

In 1997, there were about 24 million people over the age of 70 in the United States. Today there’s just over 76 million over 70, representing about one-quarter of the population. The AAA estimates that 85-90% of them have driver’s licenses. That’s a vast increase in the number of OLDER drivers on the road!

Research shows that drivers over the age of 65 have increased instances of vehicle crashes. Drivers over the age of 75 have a disproportionate risk for becoming involved in fatal crashes. Here are a few things to keep in mind about older drivers and their habits that may increase safety concerns and hazards for other motorists.

Three Behavioral Factors of Elderly Drivers:

  1. Poor judgment in making left-hand turns.
  2. Drifting within the traffic lanes
  3. Decreased ability to respond in an unexpected or fast-moving situation. See more safety guidelines for elderly drivers here.

Red Flags–Elderly drivers and their families shouldn’t ignore the following additional concerns:

  • Slow response times
  • Inability to fully turn to check blind spots
  • Running stop signs
  • Motorists honking at them frequently
  • A hesitation or reluctance to drive
  • The driver shows signs of cognitive dysfunction such as getting lost or calling for help.
  • Repeat fender benders, dings, or paint scrapes on the car

Related Article: Teens & Older people are the highest risk drivers.

Health Issues Are Safety Factors That Can Increase Risk of a Car Accident

Aging is tough stuff!  Muscles and joints that we once took for granted can stiffen and crack. Colors and perception are not what they used to be. What? Did you hear that? Hearing loss can be a real problem when you’re talking to someone, but what about not hearing warning honks, horns, and sirens? Or even noises coming from your own car?

Keep in mind that medications and physical conditions, such as reduced vision, a stroke, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease, can affect driving performance in dramatic or even subtle ways. “Driving skill is more related to health than it is to age. There’s no magic age at which everyone needs to give up their keys,” said the spokesman for the Michigan AARP.

Click here for a more complete list of issues and concerns related to older drivers.

Mature Detour

In 2014, motor vehicle crashes accounted for less than 1 percent of fatalities among drivers that were 70 and older.  While people ages 70 and older are less likely to be licensed to drive compared with younger people, they are keeping their licenses longer and driving more miles than the elderly of the past. With such a large percentage of baby boomers still actively driving, the odds of having a collision or a fender bender with a fairly “mature” driver is a sure reality. See Related article: Fatality Facts in Older People

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has encouraged every state to develop and implement a comprehensive safety program for older drivers, from roadway design, updating policies and guidelines for renewing driver’s licenses of the elderly, having law enforcement more watchful and identifying “at-risk” drivers, while providing social and aging services in local communities.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has put together uniform safety guidelines for older drivers.

Help for Having “The Talk”

On a personal level, the AARP offers ways of discussing concerns, prepared as a virtual seminar, to help families have “The Talk” with mature drivers. It’s a serious matter and tough decision for everyone involved. As the numbers show with our growing number of baby boomers, millions will be having similar talks across the country. You need to be informed, safety-minded, and smart. But most importantly, be kind.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a motor vehicle crash, call Fielding Law Group today! Don’t let an accident WRECK you!