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Risks of traffic fatalities increase for elderly drivers

AdobeStock_84971390.jpegFor many Georgians, the privilege to drive is not only convenient but also a freedom they enjoy. That is why many elderly drivers continue to drive, especially nowadays.

However, elderly drivers and their children must be aware of the increased risks they face on the road.

The natural effects of aging can make drivers more vulnerable

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of drivers 65 and older was a record 44 million in 2017. This is a 63% increase since the year 1999.

However, the higher number of older licensed drivers combined with the natural changes that come with aging can increase the risk of suffering a fatality on the road. The CDC also reports that an average of 20 older adults are killed in motor vehicle accidents each day, with 700 more suffering serious injuries.

In the event of a collision, an injury could quickly become life-threatening for older individuals because:

  • Their bones and muscles become more fragile and susceptible to breaking or tearing;
  • They are more likely to be on medications like blood thinners, which can cause significant blood loss;
  • Many organs work harder as we age, and may suffer severe damage; and
  • Skin becomes thinner as well, which can increase the chance of bruising or internal bleeding.

The physical changes aging brings can also make the healing process last much longer for older adults.

These risks can make driving more dangerous for older drivers

The risks that elderly drivers face on the road often do not stem from a lack of experience. And although aging can impair one’s ability to drive, their risk of suffering a severe injury is far more concerning.

Thankfully, individuals can take steps to reduce those risks. It might be helpful for older drivers to:

  • Take a course to enhance their driving skills and safety;
  • Avoid driving at night, when visibility is low;
  • Obtain regular physicals and medical checkups; and
  • Reduce the amount of driving they do, to reduce their chance of injury.

Precautions are necessary to ensure older drivers stay safe on Georgia roads.