For many older Americans, driving remains a tool by which they can maintain their independence and mobility. Unfortunately, driving risks increase considerably as a person ages and, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), fatal car crash rates increase beginning at age 75 and increase dramatically after age 80.
Moreover, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 5,560 people over the age of 65 died, and 214,000 were injured, in motor vehicle crashes in 2012 alone – a 3 percent increase in the number of fatalities and a 16 percent increase in the number of injuries from the previous year. NHTSA data also shows that older adults are at a greater risk of dying or sustaining serious injuries, even in relatively minor auto accidents.
Armed with this knowledge, government agencies are takings steps to promote driving safety and prevent auto accidents involving older drivers. Last month, the NHTSA announced “a new strategic plan that will serve as a roadmap to ensure the safety of our nation’s growing population of older drivers and passengers.”
The NHTSA plan will focus on the following:
- Vehicle Safety: NHTSA is researching a number of advanced vehicle technologies, including vehicle-to-vehicle communications, collision avoidance, and crashworthiness, that could help reduce the risk of death or injury to older occupants in the event of a car accident. While crash avoidance technologies benefit all drivers, they could be of particular use to older drivers.
- Improved Data Collection: NHTSA is revamping its data collection systems and will continue to evaluate car crash rates, auto accident injuries, and changes associated with driver behaviors. NHTSA also plans to conduct various studies to better understand the effects of age-related medical conditions, such as dementia.
- Driver Behavior: NHTSA continues to focus its efforts on public education and identifying functional changes including vision, strength, flexibility, and cognition to help all at-risk drivers – not just older drivers – by issuing Older Driver Highway Safety Program Guidelines that states can implement to keep older drivers safe.
The CDC also recommends that older drivers take the following precautions to keep themselves and other motorists safe while on the road:
- Exercise regularly to increase strength and flexibility.
- Ask doctor or pharmacist to review medicines–both prescription and over-the counter–to reduce side effects and interactions.
- Get frequent eye exams by an eye doctor at least once a year, and wear glasses and corrective lenses as required.
- Drive during daylight and in good weather.
- Find the safest driving route with well-lit streets, intersections with left turn arrows, and easy parking.
- Plan driving route in advance.
- Leave a large following distance between vehicles.
- Avoid distractions in your car, such as a loud radio, talking on your cell phone, texting, and eating.
- Consider potential alternatives to driving, such as riding with a friend or using public transit.
Auto accidents are among the most common types of personal injury accidents, and a large percentage of accidents occur in intersections. The Chicago auto accident attorneys at Cogan & Power, P.C. are dedicated to keeping Chicago motorists safe and helping the victims of auto accidents obtain the financial recovery that they deserve.
If you or a loved one has been involved in an auto accident, do not hesitate to contact the experienced auto accident law firm of Cogan & Power at (312) 436-0731 to receive a free case evaluation. We will promptly launch an independent investigation of the accident to collect and review any available evidence so that we can assess all potential legal claims. After we have conducted a comprehensive legal analysis, we will vigorously advocate on your behalf to get you the compensation you need and deserve.