According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, car accidents are especially dangerous for older adults. This age group has an elevated risk of involvement in a motor vehicle collision as well as a higher risk of serious injury or fatality if an accident does occur. The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration says that adults ages 65 and older represent 20% of all auto accident deaths.
Review the factors that contribute to the dangers of serious auto accidents for older adults.
Physical risk factors
The CDC says that after age 70, motorists have a higher risk of car accident fatalities than younger drivers and passengers. Elderly individuals often have other health problems that make them more vulnerable to severe complications after a crash.
Changes in cognition, vision and mobility can also impact an older adult’s ability to drive safely. These risks increase for those who take multiple prescription medications, which can have health-related side effects.
Safety steps to take
Wearing a seatbelt can help keep seniors safe when driving or riding in a motor vehicle. Older adults may want to plan their trips during daylight hours before a decrease in visibility makes it more difficult to see. They should also avoid driving when the weather forecast calls for rain, sleet or snow.
Seniors should have annual vision tests to make sure they can see well enough to drive. Like drivers of all ages, they should avoid distractions behind the wheel.
If you are approaching retirement age or have older loved ones, start the driving safety conversation. Communication about this issue can help protect family members from devastating auto accident injuries.