The rapid aging of the population is raising significant concerns about motor vehicle accident risks. Seniors over the age of 70 are the demographic group with the second-highest rate of car accidents according to Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Only teenagers are more dangerous on the roads than elderly drivers. By 2030, 20 percent of people in the United States will be 65 or older compared with only 13 percent of the population in 2010. Many more seniors means many more drivers on the road in this high-risk age group.
Mitigating the risks associated with senior drivers requires all elderly individuals and their families and medical providers to make informed choices about when a senior is no longer able to safely operate a vehicle. As Boston.com points out, this can be a very difficult decision. The choice to have a senior stop driving may have an impact on the health of the elderly individual, so the possible detrimental impact to the senior must be taken into account. At the same time, allowing a senior to drive for too long puts everyone else in danger. You do not want to wait until an accident has already happened before a senior stops driving.
Weighing the Risks of Senior Driving Accidents
When a senior drives for too long, he could kill or seriously injure himself and others on the road. A senior or his family members may not be aware the elderly driver's physical or mental condition has declined to the point where the risk of a collision is unacceptable until the accident actually happens.
The natural aging process affects seniors in a number of ways. Older people tend to have delayed reaction time and impaired cognitive function. Vision may be impaired and the reflexes of senior drivers may be slower, so they are less able to respond quickly in an emergency situation. Before the senior declines to the point where he or she can no longer drive, the elderly individual should make the voluntary choice to stop operating a vehicle. If a senior does not act on his or her own, a doctor or family member should step in.
When a senior stops driving, however, there are consequences. AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety recently reviewed 16 different papers addressing possible causal links between giving up driving and a rapid decline in a senior citizen's health. A senior who has stopped driving a car is less socially engaged and less likely to engage in outdoor activities or activities outside the home. A senior who has stopped driving is also up to five times as likely as his or her peers of the same age to go into an assisted living home, and is more likely to experience symptoms of depression. While there is no proof yet that giving up driving causes these problems, there is a clear correlation.
Family members of seniors can try to mitigate some of these unpleasant possible side effects which could affect seniors who give up a license. A plan should be created so the senior can remain mobile so giving up the right to drive will not have as serious of an impact.
If you or a loved one has been injured in Wichita, contact Warner Law Offices. Call 866-584-1032 today.