As our Phoenix injury lawyers often report, teenagers are most at risk of being involved in a serious or fatal accident. But the growing population of elderly drivers is among the largest challenges safety advocates face with the aging of the Baby Boomers in coming years.
The problem will be especially acute in retirement areas like Florida and Arizona. The percentage of seniors over the age of 75 who have retained their driver’s licenses has increased in the last decade, from 73 percent to 78 percent. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports there are 30 million senior drivers on the road — a number that could double in the coming two decades.
A report by the Government Accountability Office found that drivers over the age of 75 were more likely than any other age group to be involved in a fatal crash. And the Washington Post reports that drivers over the age of 75 were twice as likely to say they planned to drive into their 90s than those ages 65 to 74. The resulting conversations about safety are taking place in family rooms across the country.
The debate about how to intervene when a parent or elderly relative refuses to hand over the keys “is happening all across the United States in families up and down the streets every day,” said Elinor Ginzler, a senior vice president of AARP. “It’s a huge issue.”
Compounding the issue of the country’s aging population are the medical advances that are permitting people to live longer.
“In the old days, or even 20 years ago, people just did not live long enough for this to be a problem,” said Elin Schold-Davis, head of the American Occupational Therapy Association’s Older Driver Initiative, who notes that some older drivers are taking potent medications that fog concentration. “People are living with a level of impairment that is unprecedented.”
The NHTSA reports that 183,000 drivers over the age of 65 were injured in traffic crashes in 2008. A total of 139 older drivers were killed in Arizona car accidents.
The federal government offers driving resources for older adults and families. Topics include:
-Adapting the vehicle for older adults -Understanding and influencing older drivers -Driving safely and aging gracefully -Family and friends concerned about an older driver -Safe driving for older adults -Driver transition education -Talking with older drivers -Screening and evaluation -Medication and older drivers
If you have been injured in a traffic accident, contact the Phoenix accident lawyers at Abels & Annes for a free and confidential appointment to discuss your rights. Call (602) 819-5191 today.