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Factors working for and against driver safety in older adults

Someone in New Jersey worried about an older relative's ability to drive can look at the facts on the subject. The news is both good and bad because adults who are 65 and older have many safe driving habits, but statistics also reveal that they have an increased chance of injury or death in car accidents.

According to data published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, older drivers do not drink and drive as much as younger people. Among fatal crashes involving older drivers, only 7 percent showed an impaired blood alcohol level, compared to 24 percent of drivers between the ages of 21 and 64. Older people avoid driving at night or when the weather is bad too. These behaviors reduce their exposure to risky road conditions. Overall, this age group does not drive as many miles as younger people.

Despite the cautious behavior, older adults still experience a high incidence of traffic accidents. Between the ages of 70 and 74, a spike in deaths occur and then worsens for drivers age 85 and up. The CDC noted that the medical conditions of older drivers increased the possibility of dying more than a propensity to cause fatal accidents. However, weakening eyesight, reaction time and cognitive abilities among the elder could contribute to accidents.

Because the elderly exhibit a greater susceptibility to injuries or death in a car accident, they or their families might experience greater damages as the result of a motor vehicle accident caused by another negligent driver. If a distracted or drunk driver caused a wreck, the injured victim might have the standing to file a personal injury lawsuit and seek compensation for medical bills and other damages. Consulting with an attorney could help determine if a lawsuit would be an appropriate course of action.

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