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Contrary to popular opinion, the elderly are no more likely to be involved in a car accident than others. According to government statistics, drivers over the age of 65 suffer car accidents at a comparable rate as younger motorists. However, studies indicate that the elderly are injured at a disproportionate rate in these very same crashes. Moreover, elderly drivers and passengers are more likely to lose their lives in a car accident than other demographics.
To that end, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) maintains that, on average, 16 senior citizens were fatally injured and 648 senior citizens were injured in car accidents each day during 2014. The numbers represent a sharp uptick in fatalities and injuries over previous decades. According to the CDC, however, that increase is at least in part attributable to greater mobility amongst senior citizens. In 2015, twice as many elderly Americans were licensed to drive than those licensed in 1999.
The chances of suffering a fatal car accident increase dramatically each year after the age of 70, with drivers over the age 85 most at risk. Senior citizens are often frail because they experience a gradual loss of bone density as they age. As a result, in the event of a crash, their bodies are unable to withstand impact as well as a younger driver or passenger would. Additionally, senior citizens can develop serious medical complications while healing from a car accident. A suppressed immune system or preexisting medical condition only serves to exacerbate injuries sustained in a crash.
Senior citizens can take certain steps to avoid car accidents. According to the CDC, older drivers should avoid traveling at night when their diminished vision is most likely to be a hazard. Similarly, senior citizens should avoid high-speed roads and only drive in inclement weather during emergencies.
Moreover, the elderly should keep a close eye on their health. Regular exercise can help strengthen arm and leg muscles needed for safe driving. The CDC additionally recommends annual visits to an eye doctor to ensure that corrective lenses are worn when needed. Lastly, senior citizens should communicate with their pharmacist whenever a new prescription is ordered since certain drugs and drug combinations can lead to sleepiness and diminished reaction times. These should be avoided if a senior citizen intends to keep driving.
Recovering from a car accident is often a slow and grueling process for car accident victims no matter their age. For senior citizens, however, injuries are often more severe and can be dire. If you or an elderly loved one is struggling to recover from a car accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Our Wilmington car accident lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow can help. With offices in Wilmington, Bear, and Milford, Delaware, we proudly serve elderly clients throughout Hockessin, Newark, Glasgow, Middletown, Smyrna, Dover, Lewes, Georgetown, and Seaford, as well communities in New Castle County, Kent County, and Sussex County. Call 302-427-9500 or complete our online form to schedule your free consultation today.