For baby boomers, extending their safe driving years is as key to independence and freedom as was obtaining a driver’s license and first car in their younger days. The good news is that older drivers can maintain independence by supplementing years behind the wheel with continuing driver education and monitoring of their driving health status, according to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP).
Studies indicate that seniors are keeping their licenses longer and driving more miles (as a group) while enjoying self-sufficiency and independence. The number of older drivers is projected to increase exponentially as the baby boom generation (born 1946 – 1964) advances in age. With 44 million licensed drivers over the age of 65 in 2017 and seniors clocking more than 660 billion miles that year, the time is ripe to highlight older driver safety awareness.
Despite the extra miles traveled by seniors as a group, older drivers are involved in fewer fatal collisions than in the past, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The number of 70 and older who died in vehicle accidents in 2017 (a total of 4,974) is down 15 percent from 1997. On the downside, older drivers face a higher risk of being seriously injured or killed in a crash due to frailty (not a higher incidence of accident involvement). According to Marketwatch.com, the American Automobile Association (AAA) distills this finding as “They (seniors) are less able to withstand the forces of a crash…and less able to recover from their injuries.”
Building on what works
A strong point for older drivers is that they tend to self-regulate wearing seatbelts, observing speed limits and avoiding drinking while driving. Additionally, older drivers tend to plan travel during daylight hours along driving routes that are familiar.
Driving experience also bodes well for seniors based on results in an online driving test created by www.cheapcarinsurance.net. Older drivers taking the test demonstrated higher driver awareness and driving knowledge superior to participants in a group younger than age 20. It appears that years of experience behind the wheel correlate with knowledge and insight to reduce risks associated with serious crashes such as speeding and distracted driving.
A good time to be an older driver
Your driving health will determine whether you are able to safely drive into older age. To extend those safe driving years, older drivers can benefit by following recommendations to monitor and update their driving skills while maintaining physical, visual, hearing and cognitive health, according to AARP.
Taking an online course as a self-screening instrument and/or a road-based driving course geared toward older drivers can help with retooling for road safety. Driving rehabilitation specialists are available to evaluate a driver’s physical and cognitive ability and make recommendations about adaptive driving methods and equipment.
Candid consultation with your doctor about health conditions and prescriptions that could potentially limit driver safety might head off vision and movement problems that can subtly impact driving ability. Conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and arthritis can undermine strength and flexibility for driving but with treatment may be cured or rendered less debilitating.
Self-regulation across driver demographics
While serious crashes are more often fatal for older drivers (due to their frailty), in terms of raw numbers, more younger drivers are killed in vehicle accidents. Alcohol-related deaths peak for those aged 21 to 34. Additionally, the highest number of fatalities was found in 25 to 34 year-olds according to the government’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
These numbers suggest that maintaining physical, visual, hearing and cognitive skills are essential to safe driving no matter what the age. And that self-monitoring, self-regulation and continuing driver education has the potential to decrease the number of fatalities and improve driver safety across demographics.
Older Driver Safety Awareness Week 2019
At C. Kelly Law, LLC we champion the rights, privileges and responsibilities associated with driving. In observance of Older Driver Safety Awareness Week 2019 (December 2-6), we want to send the message that all drivers deserve safe roadways to travel for work and leisure.
If you or a loved one was seriously or fatally injured in an auto accident in Georgia due to someone else’s negligence, it is crucial to hire a personal injury accident attorney for maximum compensation for your losses.
Contact the C. Kelly Firm to schedule a free consultation by calling 1 844-I-WIN-4-GA or completing a free and confidential online evaluation.