Our David W. Martin Accident and Injury Lawyers in South Carolina know that accidents involving aging adults are trending in the wrong direction. For every 1,000 people involved in crashes, senior drivers are involved in 96.61 accidents. The older the senior driving, the more likely they are to cause or be involved in an accident.
Moreover, according to the National Safety Council, motor-vehicle deaths involving drivers and other road users aged 65 and older increased by 15%, from 7,902 to 9,102 last year.
Part of the increase in numbers is based on the growing percentage of Americans who are 65 or older. According to last year’s data, more than 55.8 million adults ages 65 and older live in the U.S., accounting for about 16.8% of the nation’s population.
By 2040, that proportion is projected to grow to 22%.
As accidents increase among those 65 and older, now is the time to discuss with aging parents their ability to drive, any concerns they have behind the wheel, and how to help get them to and from their activities if they should no longer drive.
Here, we discuss common warning signs, accident statistics, and alternative transportation options to keep them on the move if they cannot drive themselves.
What are the Warning Signs Older Drivers Should Reconsider Their Driving Habits?
Like teenage drivers, older adults are likely to feel more independent with a driver’s license and access to a vehicle. This means they can get to and from the grocery, social events, and physician’s appointments without disrupting friends’ or family members’ schedules.
As we age, however, it is essential to realize that mental reactions, situational awareness, vision, and motor controls may not be as sharp as they once were.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) lists several warning signs that an older person can no longer drive safely.
- Braking or accelerating for no reason.
- Confusion about what to do or where they are.
- Drifting into or straddling other lanes.
- Inability to see pedestrians or bicyclists in their peripherals.
- Missing stoplights or stop signs.
- More scratches and dents on the car.
- Multiple close calls for crashes.
While not an exhaustive list, some issues associated with driving may be fairly resolvable with new glasses, a change in medication, or a driving course. Others may be permanent, which requires a conversation to help keep everyone safe.
Your Parents Are Not the Only Ones in Danger Behind the Wheel
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, senior drivers file 48.96 property damage liability and collision claims per 100 insured vehicles compared to drivers of younger age groups.
NHTSA estimates that most people killed in traffic crashes involving older drivers are 65 and older. About 66% of the deaths last year were either the more senior driver or their passenger, also 65 years of age or older. However, the vehicle’s occupants are not the only ones at risk.
Last year, the individuals who were killed in vehicle accidents involving drivers 65 and older included:
- Older driver deaths: 4,691 (57.1%)
- Passengers age 65+ riding with an older driver: 732 (8.9%)
- Passengers younger than 65 riding with an older driver: 203 (2.5%)
- Other vehicle occupants: 1,763 (21.5%)
- Non-occupants, including pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists: 820 (10.0%)
If you believe your parents can no longer drive safely, the NHTSA offers resources for starting a conversation, including helpful articles and advice like How to Understand and Influence Older Drivers.
We understand that the perceived loss of independence may be difficult for older drivers, who often look to family for assistance.
Common alternatives may include senior transportation services available in their area, adding rideshare apps to their smartphones, scheduling appointments around friends’ and family members’ schedules, and understanding their movements so you can help them feel as independent as when they had their vehicles.
Remember, if your parent has been in a crash, it may not necessarily have been their fault. Find out what happened and if they are entitled to compensation from the other driver’s insurer or through a legal claim.
Contact Our David W. Martin Accident & Injury Lawyers Today
If you have been injured in a vehicle collision caused by a senior driver, or if your parent(s) was injured by another driver’s negligence in South Carolina, contact our David W. Martin Accident & Injury Lawyers today by calling 803-548-2468 to learn more about your legal rights and options to hold the negligent party liable for your or their complete recovery needs.
We provide free consultations for all personal injury cases in South Carolina and never charge any legal fees unless we deliver a positive outcome for your unique case.