Not everyone should be driving, including people of all ages, because they pose too great a risk to pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists, and other drivers. Sometimes that risk is due to physical and mental decline because of aging. Especially in rural parts of Kentucky, the lack of public transportation or other good options means there are older drivers behind the wheel who shouldn’t be there.
As of 2017, there were nearly 44 million licensed drivers 65 and older in the US, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This number has grown by 63% since 1999. Older Americans, like everyone else, need to get around, but the chances of getting hurt or killed in a vehicle crash increases with age.
Older, less competent divers pose potential dangers to others and themselves. Also in 2017, nearly 7,700 adults 65 years old and older were killed in motor vehicle crashes. Another 257,000 were treated in hospital emergency departments after motor vehicle crashes. About 20 older adults were killed, and another 700 were injured in motor vehicle crashes, on an average day that year.
Age-related difficulties with vision and the ability to reason and remember, as well as physical changes, affect some older adults’ driving abilities. Dangerous drivers are on both ends of the age spectrum. Drivers 65 and older are 16 percent more likely than drivers aged 25 to 64 to cause an accident, according to a study published by the Rand Corporation. The youngest drivers are 188 percent more likely to cause a crash compared to that same group.
The study concluded that because older drivers drive less than others, the overall risk they pose to the public is much lower, even though they are more likely to cause an accident when they drive. If an older driver is negligent, causes an accident and injuries, they may be held responsible.
Negligence is the legal theory used nearly all vehicle accident cases. It usually comes down to a driver making a serious mistake and causing the accident. The driver did, or didn’t do, something, which resulted in the crash and accidents.
If you can’t drive safely for whatever reason, you should not drive. If an older driver is aware that their driving ability has declined, there may have been recent minor accidents, or there were near accidents, that person should not drive. At the very least, the driver should get medical attention to determine the cause to see if it can be treated. Another solution may be limiting driving to situations where the person is safe to drive, such as only during daylight on roads with light traffic.
Being an older American is challenging enough. Isolation can make things worse. If you need medical care, you must have a way to see healthcare professionals. Errands like grocery shopping need to be made. But these needs must be balanced against another need, to avoid vehicle accidents. They can have devastating effects on the older driver and others involved in the crash. Someone else needs to drive, anther means of transportation will have to be used, or the person will have to live in a place where transportation isn’t an issue.
If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident involving an older driver, call The Fleck Firm at (270) 446-7000 to schedule a free consultation. We’ll talk about the accident, your injuries, the law, and your best options to proceed. Insurance companies have lawyers. You should have one too.