Keeping Elderly Drivers in More Accommodating Vehicles

December 31, 1969

As we age, we just can't do things as good as we used to. Touching our hands to our toes is harder, keeping up with technology is more difficult and driving can seem a bit trickier, too.
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Older drivers have special needs -- especially when driving. That's why officials with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are stepping in and helping you to better choose a vehicle as an older driver. It all comes with the new "silver" rating.

Our Costa Mesa car accident attorneys understand that the new "silver" rating would be used in addition to the current five-star rating system we've been using since 1978. This new rating is important because our driving population is aging. As it stands now, less than 20 percent of our licensed drivers are 65 and older. Experts predict that the number will shoot up to more than 55 percent by 2030. The "silver tsunami" or the wave of older drivers we can expect, will be unprecedented.

There were 35 million licensed older drivers in 2011. That's a more than 20 percent increase from 2002. In contrast, the total number of licensed drivers increased by only 9 percent from 2002 to 2011.

According to The Washington Post, older motorists are more likely than younger motorists to be injured or killed in a car accident. Younger bodies are just better equipped to withstand the force in an accident. Because of this, we want elderly drivers to be equipped with a vehicle that's going to protect them best.

For example, officials with the NHTSA cited inflatable seat belts and technologies that help prevent low-speed pedal misapplication as two safety features with potential benefits for older vehicle occupants.

When you break it all down, elderly drivers account for the highest fatality rate out of all motorists involved in serious crashes.

Age-related declines in vision and cognitive functioning (ability to reason and remember), as well as physical changes, may affect some older adults' driving abilities.

The only worry here is that the new ratings will alienate a manufacturer's target audience. Older drivers typically don't want "older people" cars.

According to the latest statistics from the NHTSA, there were close to 500 people over the age of 64 who were killed in car accidents in the state of California in 2011. These fatalities accounted for nearly 20 percent of the total number of traffic accident fatalities recorded throughout the year.

As we get older, it's no surprise that our driving abilities are going to change. By making sure that we're up to date on our driving skills and that we're in a vehicle that best suits our needs, we can help to eliminate the risks for injury or death out there. It's also important for us to know when it's time to give up the keys. It's not giving up our independence, but it's helping us to stick around for that much longer.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a traffic accident, contact Vincent Howard today for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights. Call (800) 872-5925.

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Is Daydreaming Really a Top Cause of Distracted Driving Crashes?, California Injury Lawyers, April 14, 2013