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How Age Impacts Crash Rates

By Jason Bottlinger on March 29, 2021

As we get older, we gain more experience, knowledge, and skills. Unfortunately, at a certain point, many of us begin to suffer a decline as our brains and bodies become slower. We often call these “senior moments,” attributing them to a weakening memory or slower reaction speeds.

When it comes to driving, these senior moments can contribute to serious collisions. While many have discussed implementing age restrictions on senior drivers to prevent wrecks, new research has shown that older drivers are becoming involved in fewer accidents.

What the Numbers Say

During an analysis by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS), researchers noted a sudden decline in crashes among drivers 70 years and older. In previous years, fatal crashes involving older drivers remained a serious issue for government agencies, as many of these wrecks were attributed to declining mental agency, slower reaction times, forgetfulness, and other issues that come with age. This is true here in Nebraska, where our Department of Transportation noted a steady rise in crashes among drivers 65 years and older. While it seemed like a difficult problem to tackle, a tricky intersection between personal responsibility and government regulation, the IIHS believes this decline is not random and is actually the result of several different factors.

When looking at recent accident rates, the IIHS noted that more and more older drivers were keeping their licenses and staying on the road. This is a drastic shift from other generations, where older drivers often retired and decreased their overall mileage. Whether due to better medical care, more independence, or spending more time in the workforce, older drivers have driven for longer periods in recent years.

But rather than seeing an increase in crashes, researchers found that this older generation of drivers was often more careful and safer than other age groups. They noted that improved health, including vision care and memory care, combined with better vehicles, has decreased the likelihood that a senior driver will be involved in a crash.

Education has also played a factor in making older drivers safer on the road. Since the ‘80s, each state’s Department of Motor Vehicles has worked to improve the driving capabilities of older drivers, offering free handbooks, performing better vision screenings, and providing a more well-rounded curriculum. In addition, the U.S. Department of Transportation has improved national guidelines to make signs bigger and roads easier to navigate.

Not Out of the Woods Yet

Seriously collisions involving older drivers may be declining overall, but they are still a major issue, especially here in Nebraska. Older drivers are more likely to suffer traumatic or fatal injuries in a crash, contributing to the high numbers of fatal accidents across our state. For many seniors, there are few options. Increasingly, older adults are working well past prime retirement age and have to commute regularly to work to keep afloat. Giving up their license could seriously impact their day-to-day life without alternative options. Many seniors do not realize it is an issue until a crash occurs.

That is why it is important for family members to discuss this issue with older drivers. Seniors are not always aware of the dangers of fatal crashes after a certain age, but many have learned to adapt. Many choose to limit their driving time to daylight hours or find new ways to get around their neighborhoods, such as rideshare and senior-specific public transportation. But the best approach is for our communities to come together and find ways to help senior drivers enjoy independent lives while also keeping our roads safe.

Who Should I Call After a Wreck?

If you were injured in a collision caused by a negligent driver, whether 18 or 60, reach out to Bottlinger Law L.L.C. When you work with us, you not only get the aid and experience of an Omaha car accident attorney, but the support of a legal team behind you. We are dedicated to helping our neighbors recover full compensation after a crash and will fight for your best interests. Call us at (402) 505-8234 to schedule a free consultation.

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