According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 83 percent of older drivers have never discussed their driving restrictions with family members or physicians and 15 percent only do so after they get a ticket, or they are involved in a crash. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) encourages older drivers to understand how their driving may be affected as they age and to take steps to continue driving safely and avoid personal injury.
Car Accidents Involving Older Drivers
The NHTSA reports that 6,764 people age 65 or older were fatally injured in traffic crashes in 2016, which accounted for 18 percent of all traffic fatalities. As of that year, there were 49.2 million people aged 65 and older in the U.S. – a 30 percent increase since 2007. There were approximately 1.1 million New Jersey residents age 65 or older that year, and according to the AAA Foundation, 47,000 of them were involved in crashes.
How Age Affects Driving
The NHTSA offers free material to help older drivers and their loved ones understand the importance of older driver safety. Some changes that we experience as we get older can affect our ability to drive safely but with the proper awareness and adjustments, we can continue to drive safely. The NHTSA provides several factors to help older drivers determine whether physical changes have affected their driving skills, including:
- Eyesight: If you are having trouble seeing signs, street markings or pedestrians, it may be time to get glasses or ensure that the ones you have are the proper strength prescription.
- Strength/Coordination/Flexibility: If you have difficulty turning the steering wheel, looking across your shoulder or moving your foot between the gas and break pedal, it may be time for some physical therapy and/or use of special equipment to facilitate your safe operation of the vehicle.
Planning and Discussion of Driving Safety
The Manager of Media Relations for AAA Northeast emphasizes the importance of proper planning when it comes to senior drivers. He says that it is also important to consider the potential negative effects of losing mobility and independence, citing research that found adults who stopped driving to be nearly two times more likely to suffer depression than those who continued to drive.
Talking to a loved one about driving safety can be difficult, however it is generally better to discuss their driving limitations before they suffer personal injury in a car accident. The AAA manager recommends talking to them as early as possible so that mutual expectations can be established, and safety issues can be properly handled. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study found that the most common reasons for discussing older driver safety included falling asleep at the wheel, health issues, involvement in a crash or receipt of a traffic ticket and planning for the future.
Family caregivers should also consider talking to older drivers about driving safety. It is better not to delay the conversation until after something bad happens. The NHTSA recommends collecting information, developing a plan of action and potentially adapting a vehicle to accommodate the needs of older drivers.
New Jersey Car Accident Lawyers at Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow, LLP Help Car Accident Victims Claim Compensation in Personal Injury Cases
If you were injured in a car accident due to someone else’s negligence, contact an experienced New Jersey car accident lawyer at Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow, LLP. We represent clients throughout New Jersey from our offices in Edison, Toms River and Red Bank. For a free consultation, contact us online or call us at 732-777-0100.