Earlier this week, an elderly driver backed out of a parking space into a crowd of pedestrians and ran over seven people, killing three of them. Causing such a catastrophe in a parking lot while barely reaching any sort of acceleration gives rise to the question, “How safe are senior drivers on the road?”
All elderly drivers are not automatically a hazard to other motorists, but – like teenage drivers – they are a demographic with particular handicaps that can affect their driving skills, reaction time, and judgment. Here are just some of the reasons older drivers cause auto accidents:
- Poor vision and hearing. Vision problems can increase with age. From macular degeneration to cataracts to not wearing prescription glasses, there are plenty of eye concerns that can affect a senior’s driving skills and lead to accidents with other autos or pedestrians. Not being able to hear as well can impact whether or not an older driver is alerted to a car horn, ambulance, or police car.
- Medication side effects. Aging means there are more health conditions to manage and these may be accompanied by medication which can impair a driver, affecting their ability to be completely cognizant and alert behind the wheel.
- Physical restrictions. Physical ailments such as arthritis and body stiffness are common in seniors and compromised motor functions can prevent a driver from being able to hit the brake or gas quickly enough or turn their head far enough to gauge traffic patterns.
- Cognition and memory problems. Seniors often fall into the category of distracted drivers, though they’re not the age group that is typically found to be texting while driving. They may take longer to assess a situation and react to it, which is certainly a danger to other motorists. Memory problems are also a concern that can lead to dangerous driving, whether a senior is unable to remember a basic traffic rule or putting their mind to something other than the road in front of them.
An average of 15 people aged 65 and older die in auto accidents every day in the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. If you have been the victim of an auto accident in Michigan involving an elderly driver, contact Femminineo Attorneys PLLC to speak with personal injury attorney David C. Femminineo about your case.