Elderly Drivers Are More Likely to Cause a Car Accident
The influx of elderly drivers in Colorado means road users need to practice increased caution. While age alone does not determine driving ability, it is common knowledge that everyday tasks such as driving can become more challenging as we age. For example, older adult drivers may have physical, cognitive, and visual impairments affecting their ability to safely operate a vehicle and are therefore dangerous and make our roads unsafe. Slow reaction times and weakened eyesight can make driving stressful for elderly drivers traveling on Colorado’s congested roads and make it harder to avoid a crash.
We all know that many of Colorado’s elderly drivers are still active even though many should no longer be behind the wheel. From 2016 to 2020 this risk has been growing, as Colorado saw a 19% increase in residents age 65 and older, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT). If you were hurt in an accident with an older driver, call 303-543-1000 to learn how Cook, Bradford & Levy, LLC’s car accident lawyers can help you.An Increase in Older Drivers Affects Road Safety
Many older Americans drive as a way of maintaining their independence, but this is not always safe for them to do. Paradoxically, however, although they may be at a greater risk for injury behind the wheel, fewer older drivers have suffered fatal car accident injuries in recent years. CDOT reports that between 2016 and 2020, there was a 13% decrease in car accident deaths for drivers aged 65 and older.
As the driver population ages, Colorado residents will continue seeing an increase in elderly drivers. Nationwide, according to the Federal Highway Administration (FHA), roughly 32 million licensed drivers were older than 70 in 2021. This is a staggering number that will only grow as baby boomers get older. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) notes that:
- Older adults are driving more miles than they used to
- 5,209 older drivers were involved in fatal accidents in 2021
- Older drivers are more likely to be involved in intersection accidents, merging accidents, and angle collisions.
The IIHS also states that some elderly drivers know their limitations and understand how to self-limit their driving accordingly. Nonetheless, those over the age of 65 still pose a risk.Driving Abilities Decline as We Age
Certain conditions can cause older adults to lose their confidence behind the wheel. According to the National Institute on Aging, some conditions that could affect older adult drivers include:
- Hearing and eyesight issues, which make it challenging to hear horns, notice ambulances, or see traffic signs
- Taking certain medications that may cause them to feel drowsy, nauseous, or otherwise incapable of driving safely
- Medical conditions like Parkinson’s disease or increased risk of stroke
- Joint and muscle weakness caused by arthritis might make it challenging for older adults to quickly turn their heads or gain control of the steering wheel.
If you or a loved one experiences any of these conditions, it may be best to think about other alternatives to driving. Elderly drivers are still responsible if they cause a car accident, and an experienced lawyer can help determine if age played a role.How Colorado’s Older Drivers Can Stay Safe Behind the Wheel
Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), older drivers are vulnerable to death or injury when they get into motor vehicle accidents. Because of this increased risk, they must remain cautious and practice safe driving.
If you or someone you love is an elderly driver, you should:
- Plan your route before you travel: If you know where you are going, you can better anticipate turns, lane changes, and busy intersections.
- Choose a safe route: Usually, you can take multiple routes to your destination. Stay safe by picking a route with well-lighted streets, limited right-hand turns, and plenty of space for parking.
- Visit your doctor regularly: You should have your vision checked regularly. Older drivers may also consider speaking with their doctor about their driving abilities. Certain medications and physical limitations could affect a decision to drive.
- Choose a vehicle with safety features: Many cars have built-in safety features to help you drive safely. A vehicle with blind spot monitoring, backup cameras, and lane departure warning features may be useful.
- Consider alternatives to driving: Rideshare services, public transportation, and carpooling with a friend are great options if you do not feel comfortable driving.
If you suffered injuries in an accident with an elderly driver, you should:Ensure the Safety of Everyone Involved
After the crash, assess yourself and any passengers in your car for injuries. Call 911 to the accident scene if anyone is hurt. Even if you feel fine, seeing a doctor is a good idea.
If your injuries allow, consider checking on the driver in the other vehicle. Elderly drivers may be overwhelmed after a crash and need assistance calling for help.Collect Evidence of the Accident
If you’re at the accident scene, take photos and videos of the damage to your car and gather contact information for witnesses. Any evidence you have will be useful if you decide to take legal action.Call the Police
According to CO Rev. Stat. § 42-4-1606, you must report traffic accidents in Colorado to the police. The responding officers can help you move your car to a safe area and direct traffic away from the accident site.
Reporting the accident also benefits you, as a police report can be evidence in your case.Consider Working With a Colorado Car Accident Lawyer
If someone else caused your car accident, you can pursue compensation through an insurance claim or a lawsuit. You do not need to navigate the legal process by yourself. Our firm’s car accident lawyers can seek a monetary settlement for you. We can:
- Speak with all parties involved in your case
- Explain the laws that apply to the accident
- Gather evidence that proves you did not cause the crash
- Determine the damages you can pursue compensation for
- Investigate the accident to learn how it occurred and who to hold responsible
You may have legal options for pursuing compensation if you or someone you love was involved in a car accident with an older driver in Colorado. Our lawyers manage cases involving older drivers. We also realize that an influx of elderly drivers in Colorado could affect traffic safety in the state in various ways, including putting more motorists at risk of having these accidents.
When you are ready to seek justice, reach out to Cook, Bradford & Levy, LLC. We offer a free consultation when you contact us at 303-543-1000.