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Aging Population Causes Concern about Rise in Traffic Fatalities

Auto accident at night

By Jim Greene

on November 18, 2010

In just a few more years, more than 20 percent of licensed drivers will be over the age of 65. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing is a matter of interpreting statistics.

According to statistics, miles logged by older drivers are rising as the baby boom generation ages. The good news is that their rate of involvement in fatal car crashes declines as they approach age 65. The bad news is that the trend begins to reverse itself after 65, according to a study by Carnegie Mellon University and the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. After 75, the study shows, older driver become as dangerous as teenage drivers. After 85, they are four times as dangerous as teenagers.

Vision Declines By Middle Age, Later Years Bring More Losses

While aging seems to grant patience to older drivers, it also reduces their physical ability to drive safely. Joseph Coughlin, head of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s AgeLab, says drivers as young as 40 need 20 times more light to see as well as when they were 20. As they pass 65, they become less able to judge speed and distances, their reflexes slow, and they are more subject to confusion.

Whether or not they are the cause of an accident, older drivers are statistically more likely to die in a serious crash, simply because their bodies have become frailer.

For Older Drivers, License Means Independence

Because most communities lack comprehensive public transportation, older drivers are reluctant to surrender their driving privilege, which gives them a degree of independence. But, after a few highly publicized fatal accidents, caused mainly by drivers over age 80, there is public pressure to more carefully monitor the licensing of older drivers. In the past, the trend was to make getting a license easier as drivers grew out of impetuous youth. Some states are now looking at ways to make it more difficult as more people live long enough to become a dangerous again.

No matter your age, if you are involved in a car crash, contact an experienced auto accident attorney. Whether you’re dealing with insurance companies or preparing for your day in court, your attorney knows the laws and regulations that will affect your case and will fight to put you in the best possible position to protect your financial future.

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