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Older drivers and car accidents: A real problem?

Throughout your life, you have likely heard stories in which someone suffered an injury or died from an accident with an older driver. Perhaps it even happened to a loved one. However, you might be wondering if the talk about older drivers being dangerous is hype or if there is truth behind it.

The answer, as with many things, cuts both ways.

Older drivers have more experience

As a group, older drivers tend to have more driving experience than other age groups. This experience can sometimes help compensate for the physical limitations, such as slowed reaction time and decreased visual acuity, that come with age. Older drivers are also less likely to drive intoxicated. Also, depending on a person's age and health, there may be no physical limitations whatsoever.

Some older drivers are self-aware

Moreover, quite a few older drivers are aware of their limitations. They implement changes to their driving habits so that they drive, for example, when traffic is least dense or when daylight is at its peak. Or, they start taking city streets instead of truck-packed highways. However, while these changes can help with safety, the reality is that physical limitations do remain. Decreased visual sharpness can still contribute to a crash no matter the time of day.

Of course, some older drivers are in denial that their driving abilities have decreased to the point that they should no longer be on the road. They have the potential to cause serious harm to themselves and to others.

Older bodies are more fragile

It so happens that it can be other, younger drivers who pose a risk to older people behind the wheel. Suppose that an older driver is in a crash through no fault of his or her own, perhaps even hit by a drunk driver. While a younger person might recover from broken bones more quickly and with fewer repercussions, just one injury can spell serious consequences for a senior citizen. This is even truer when the senior citizen is already struggling financially and barely making ends meet.

The bottom line: As with virtually any age group, there are older drivers who belong on the roads and others who do not.

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