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Are older drivers at high risk for deadly accidents?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that, when looking at the number of deadly crashes per miles driven, the involvement rate starts going up when drivers hit age 70. This continues through age 74 and then reaches its peak when drivers are 85 years old and older.

Taken by itself, this data could suggest that older drivers pose a serious risk on the roads. But is this the case? Why are they involved in such a high amount of deadly crashes?

The CDC does say that some aging issues may impact the driving abilities of older adults. For example, a decline in cognitive functioning could cause them to make mistakes they would never have made at 50 years old. Issues with vision could make it harder for them to see the road and could lead to accidents. The CDC even notes that some physical changes that impact the elderly could make driving harder, even for those who were good drivers in their younger days.

However, on the whole, the CDC claims that an increased susceptibility to injuries is the real reason these elderly drivers are involved in more fatal crashes. Quite simply, a minor accident that a 21-year-old may have lived through might be deadly for an 81-year-old. This makes their fatal crash stats look higher than the other age ranges.

All of these factors likely contribute to crashes involving older drivers, to one degree or another, and may end up being considered in court after a crash. If you've been injured in a wreck with an elderly driver -- or if you've lost an elderly loved one in a crash caused by another driver -- you need to make sure you understand your legal rights to compensation.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Older Adult Drivers," accessed Feb. 01, 2017

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