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Why do elderly drivers see an increase in fatal accident rates?

On Behalf of | Oct 4, 2021 | Motor Vehicle Accidents

When you look at the statistics, it’s clear that teen drivers have the highest fatal crash rate. This is often attributed to things like reckless driving, distraction and a lack of experience. Essentially, teens tend to be rather poor drivers, and this can lead to some catastrophic injuries.

After that, the rate falls for most adult drivers. They are more experienced and careful, and so they crash less. No age group is immune to crashes, but the rates are lower.

Interestingly, though, elderly drivers see a rise in crash statistics again. This cannot be attributed to a lack of experience — the biggest issue for teens — as elderly adults are the most experienced drivers. So why do they see an increase in serious and fatal crash rates?

Vulnerability becomes an issue

Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the biggest issue is just vulnerability. Since they tend to be more frail and subject to greater injuries, elderly drivers have higher crash rates not because they crash more often, but because the ramifications are worse for them.

For instance, a driver may get hit by a teen when he is 35 years old, and he will suffer a head injury but recover. An elderly driver could get in the exact same type of accident and she could pass away from the same head injury. It’s not that the elderly driver was any worse at driving itself, but just that they couldn’t recover from the same injury, so it turns into a fatal accident.

There are other potential factors to consider, mostly due to issues that come with aging. Someone experiencing cognitive decline could make more driving errors. Some whose vision is declining may not be proficient defensive driver any longer. But frailty and vulnerability to injuries are certainly the biggest reasons that the rates of fatal crashes go back up later in life.

Have you lost a loved one?

If you have lost a loved one in a car accident or if you have suffered serious injuries yourself, you may be able to seek compensation from the driver who caused the crash.