The United States has an aging population. By 2040, it’s estimated that one out of every five people in this country will be 65 years of age or older – and many of them will still be driving.
Unfortunately, age has a way of affecting a lot of different skills, and driving is one of them. Senior drivers may be uniquely prone to getting into serious accidents for a multitude of reasons.
Reduced visual acuity
When people age, their eyes undergo numerous changes that can affect their visual acuity, depth perception and contrast sensitivity. That can make it difficult for them to judge distances between their vehicle and other vehicles and leave them prone to mistakes.
Impaired night vision
Aging also causes a decline in people’s ability to adapt to lower levels of light. This means that the older a driver gets, the more they may find it challenging to see clearly in the dark or adjust to changes in light during bad weather.
Increased sensitivity to glare
Older people are prone to cataracts and astigmatisms that can both increase with time, and that can make it very difficult to see through the glare or “halo” effect they see around headlights and streetlights, making night driving even more hazardous.
Slower reaction times
Aging also does some damage to most people’s reflexes. Slower reflexes mean that an older driver may need more time to respond to hazards in the road, and they don’t always have it.
More medical conditions
Even relatively healthy seniors may find themselves taking more medications over time, and some of those medications may cause them to be dizzy, distractible or drowsy. That can make it harder for them to stay focused behind the wheel.
It’s important for every senior to regularly self-assess and make sure that they’re still “safe to drive,” both for their own sake and others on the road. If you do end up in a wreck with a senior, make sure that you fully understand your legal options regarding your injuries and other losses as you may be entitled to compensation.