The good news for Americans is that we're living longer, more active lives. The bad news is that older people make up an increasingly large percentage of licensed drivers. Sometimes their desire to maintain the independence that their driver's license provides makes them oblivious to mental and physical limitations that can impact their safety and that of fellow drivers.
Older drivers (those in their 70s and 80s) have a higher risk of dying because of a car crash than drivers who are middle-aged. The American Medical Association contends that this is not only because they're more likely to be involved in a crash, but because their advanced age makes them more vulnerable to succumbing to their injuries.
Increased Training and Testing for Seniors
Organizations like AARP and the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety have programs for senior drivers who help them work on the skills they need to stay safe on the road. State laws vary regarding how often senior drivers have to be re-tested in order to keep their driver's licenses and at what age more stringent testing begins.
Obviously, everyone ages differently. However, three significant functions that are necessary for driving decline with age.
Cognitive skills include visual processing, memory and attention. Cognitive skills can be impaired by a number of drugs that are commonly taken by older people. Certain medical conditions, including dementia (even in its early stages), can also impact cognitive skills.
These include flexibility and muscle strength. A weakening of motor functions, such as people experience who have arthritis, can impact a person's ability to quickly hit the brakes or make other moves that are necessary to avoid a crash.
Of course, visual acuity often declines with age. Corrective lenses can improve that. However, people sometimes lose their peripheral vision as they get older. They may also take longer to adjust to light level changes, such as a sudden glare.
If you are involved in a crash that was caused by an older driver, you have the right to seek compensation for expenses like medical treatment, car repairs and other losses and damages. An experienced car accident attorney can provide advice and guidance.
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