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Are Older Vehicles Resulting in More Fatal Accidents for Seniors?

Over the past few decades, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports that seniors are driving for longer periods and have been involved in fewer car accidents than they had been previously. That is the good news. The noteworthy news for seniors is that IIHS also states that the chances of a fatality in the event of a significant car accident is considerably higher for seniors, with the IIHS reporting that their propensity to drive older model cars as accelerating the problem.

Senior Motorists Should Consider Buying a Newer Vehicle

IIHS research showed that seniors are in fact engaged in fewer collisions than drivers half their age. However, motorists 75 years or older are four times as likely to die of a side-impact collision and three times as likely to die in a frontal crash as middle-aged motorists. The institute also revealed that seniors tend to enjoy cars that they have previously drove over the course of their lifetime rather than a new vehicle, which further increases the risk of a fatal car collision. The IIHS study revealed that motorists over 70 were much more likely to drive cars that were 16 or more years old than drivers between the ages of 35 and 54.

By not driving a newer model vehicle, older drivers do not utilize all the advanced technological features that come with modern vehicles such as electronic stability control and head-protecting side airbags. Innovations such as blind spot monitoring, forward collision warning, and automatic emergency braking were also less likely to be features desired by older drivers.

Additionally, IIHS found that approximately 25 percent of seniors believed automatic emergency braking was a necessity when buying a vehicle as opposed to 40 percent of middle-aged drivers. Not utilizing a newer model car also revealed that the risks of being involved in a car accident surged. For example, cars without electronic stability control have a 37 percent higher chance of senior driver fatalities, and lack of head-protecting side airbags doubled the likelihood of death for an older motorist.

A car’s age, along with its size, also factors into the safety, as senior drivers are more prone to drive smaller cars that can endanger them to greater forces in a collision, contrasted to larger and heavier SUVs and pickup trucks.

IIHS found the seniors who drive a newer car reduced their risk of being involved in a fatal accident by three percent for drivers over 70, and five percent for those over 80 if car safety was on par with that of drivers 35 to 54 years old. The institute said that even though that was a small percentage, it amounted to 90 lives saved yearly.

Older Driver Statistics

The number of motorists who are age 70 and older is rising, as they comprise a bigger proportion of the population than in years past and their numbers continue to grow, according to the IIHS. Also, older drivers are holding onto their licenses longer.

Despite the rise in seniors driving, they are involved in fewer fatal collisions than in the past with a total of 5,195 people ages 70 and older dying in car collisions in 2019. That is 12 percent less than in 1997, according to the IIHS.

Additionally, older motorists restrict their driving, as surveys revealed that many seniors drive fewer miles and avoid night driving or other demanding conditions as they get older. It is worth noting that some states require in-person license renewal for older drivers to weed out drivers who should not be behind the wheel or be given a restricted license.

Edmunds reports that seniors are especially at risk when they are at intersections, as that is typically where many accidents involving elderly drivers happen and where the most significant vehicle collisions happen. Edmunds states that 40 percent of the fatal accidents for drivers 70 and older happen at intersections and involve other vehicles, contrasted with just 23 percent of such accidents for 35- to 54-year-olds.

That is why intersections and how drivers utilize them, along with whether they can be improved for senior drivers, have gained significant interest from researchers, advocacy groups, and government agencies.

New Vehicle Features Seniors Should Seek

Cars.com stated that new model cars afford senior drivers’ friendly comfort and convenience features can make driving easier. When considering buying a new vehicle, senior drivers should consider the following features:

  • Automatic transmission

  • Good visibility

  • Easy to enter and exit, i.e., low step-in height but elevated seating position, wide-opening doors, easy-to-use cargo area

  • User-friendly multimedia system with large buttons, knob controls

  • Easy-to-read instrument and system control displays

  • Quiet cabin

  • Comfortable ride to combat driver fatigue

  • Power adjustable seats/pedals/steering with memory setting

Safety Measures Seniors Can Utilize

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the seniors can take these additional steps to stay safe on the road:

  • Stick to a regular activity program to increase strength and flexibility.

  • Ask a medical professional to examine your medicines, both prescription and over-the-counter, to reduce side effects and interactions.

  • Have your eyes checked by an eye doctor at least once a year and wear glasses and corrective lenses as required.

  • Drive during daylight and in nice weather.

  • Schedule your route before you drive.

  • Learn the safest route with well-lit streets, intersections with left-turn signals, and easy parking.

  • Put a significant following distance between your car and the vehicle in front of you.

  • Avert distractions in your car, such as listening to your car’s radio at high volume, talking or texting on your phone, and eating.

  • Ponder potential alternatives to driving, such as riding with a friend, rideshare services, or using public transit.

Highland Park Car Accident Lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr Help Clients in Car Accidents Involving Senior Drivers

If you or a loved one has been in a car accident involving a senior driver, the Highland Park car accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr will fight on your behalf so that you can concentrate on getting your life back on track. Our experienced legal team will thoroughly examine your case in order to secure the compensation for which you are entitled. Call us today at 877-249-4600 or 732-537-8570 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Highland Park, New Jersey, we serve clients in New Brunswick, Somerset, Piscataway, Edison, South River, Sayreville, Metuchen, East Brunswick, South Plainfield, Fords, Middlesex, Old Bridge, Iselin, Bound Brook, Perth Amboy, Colonia, Elizabeth, and Newark.

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