Florida is a popular destination for retirees and there are a lot of elderly residents of the state as a result. Soon, however, Florida is not going to be the only place where a large percentage of the population is 65 or older. With aging baby boomers and a coming "Silver Tsunami," it is estimated that one driver out of every five is going to be a senior citizen by 2030.
Our West Palm Beach car accident attorneys know that the aging of the driving population is raising serious concerns about senior drivers and the impact that these older drivers will have on car accident rates. As part of the aging process, memory, cognitive functions, flexibility and physical abilities start to decline. This can result in seniors driving who may present a significant hazard behind the wheel. This, of course, raises the question of whether the roads are soon to be filled with a bunch of unsafe seniors who cause the accident rates to go up.
Will Older Drivers Endanger Us All?
Despite the fears about older drivers, an article recently published by an AAA author in Your West Valley indicates that things may not be as bad as they seem. Many of the fears about an aging driving population are based on myths that overestimate the risks associated with older drivers. In fact, the article suggests that senior drivers may just be safer behind the wheel than other segments of the population.
According to the article, for example:
- Drivers between the ages of 64 and 69 are statistically the safest on the roads.
- Senior drivers are less likely than other adults to drive while drowsy or to drive while impaired by drugs or alcohol. Both of these dangerous behaviors significantly increase the risk of accidents, so having fewer tired or drunk drivers on the roads should be a very good thing.
- Senior drivers buckle up more often than their younger counterparts. While only 63 percent of adults were found to be wearing seat belts at the time of auto accidents, 77 percent of senior drivers or passengers in crashes had belts on at the time. Seniors who buckle up will also set a good example for younger drivers.
- Seniors tend to avoid driving at nighttime, which is a time when more accidents occur, and instead do much of their driving at the safest times of the day when there are fewer hazards.
- Seniors tends to be less resistant to changes in driving safety laws and to embrace new safety rules.
- The rates of decline in cognitive and physical abilities vary by senior. Many elderly adults do not actually experience significant declines that would dramatically affect their driving ability.
This news is all good and suggests that an increase in the number of senior drivers may be a good thing for car safety rather than a bad thing as some had predicted. Of course, individual seniors could still present a danger if they continue to drive beyond the point when it is safe to do so. As such, it is important that everyone who is aging or with aging family members take stock of their current health situation and make a careful choice about whether it is still safe to drive.
If you've been injured in a car crash, contact West Palm Beach car accident lawyer David J. Glatthorn at 800-990-9394 for a free case review.