Older adults are the most likely group to die in a car crash, despite being among the nation’s safest drivers, according to the AJC.
Although drivers 65 and older are more likely to wear a seat belt and don’t drink or text while driving, they are less likely to survive in the event a car accident does occur. Elizabeth Head, coordinator of the older driver part of the Injury Prevention Program of the Georgia Department of Public Health, says that increased fatalities are often due to age.
Aging can often result in the decline of vision, hearing, memory, flexibility, and reaction time. The effects of medications or increased frailty also bring about a greater risk of death in a crash.
In 2008, 69% of Georgia drivers 65 and older who were involved in a vehicle crash died. Experts predict that by 2025, vehicle crashes will become the second leading cause of unintentional injury deaths among those 65 and older.
Despite these statistics, senior adults can maintain safe driving habits by regularly taking driving and physical assessments. An example is CarFit, a free program by AAA that helps seniors fit in their car better by adjusting their mirrors and seats. AARP offers a Smart Driver course that focuses on important topics such as sharing the road, stopping distances, merging, and rules for roundabouts and stop signs. Many other resources are available to encourage safe and confident driving habits among the senior age group.
If a family member or loved one is experiencing the effects of aging and is reluctant to give up their keys, aging experts recommend a respectful conversation. Listen for any clues about driving troubles, and look for other transportation options that may be available. Says Head, “It’s important for them to stay mobile and not become isolated just because driving is no longer an option. The main thing to remember is that stopping driving should never mean you lose your independence.”