It seems that teen drivers and senior drivers share an unfortunate bond. Both age groups are at increased risk for an accident when they climb behind the wheel of a car. Consumer Reports notes that teen drivers are nine times more likely to wind up in a crash than a middle-aged driver.
For seniors, the crash rate is lower than for teens but more deadly. According to the same Consumer Reports study, older driver safety statistics show senior drivers are five times more likely to experience a fatal car accident than middle-aged adults.
Both groups are at considerable risk, but the reasons behind the statistics couldn’t be more different.
Teen Driver Safety
Younger adults run into problems because of their lack of experience. Not having logged as many hours at the wheel of a car means they haven’t yet had an opportunity to fine tune driving skills. A lack of maturity can also make it more difficult for them to react appropriately if something unexpected happens when they are in the driver’s seat.
In recent years, texting and driving has become a major factor for teen driving accidents. According to textinganddrivingsafety.com, texting while driving makes it 23% more likely the driver will be involved in an accident. The site notes that in 2011 alone, 1.3 million accidents were attributed to texting and driving. 18% of teen drivers admitted to texting just before they were involved in an accident.
Older Driver Safety
Seniors are at risk for very different reasons. Age is not the only determining factor in predicting whether or not an older driver is still safe on the road. Physical fitness, reflexes, medications, vision, and hearing can all have an impact.
We’ve shared tips for evaluating how safe you or a senior you love are behind the wheel on our blog, The CaringTimes. As we head into winter, we thought it was important to send out a reminder!
Factors for Seniors to Consider When Evaluating Driving Fitness
- Listen to your body – is it telling you it’s time to hang up the keys for good? An increasing number of serious aches and pains or a lack of confidence in your driving ability might be signals that it’s time to cut back or give it up completely.
- Test your eyes and ears – vision or hearing loss can increase your chances for injury. Have both tested annually to assess your safety.
- Drive the right vehicle – finding a senior-friendly car is another way to lower the risk for a crash. Some vehicles are easier for older drivers to operate than others. Consumer Reports maintains a list of the ten top best vehicles for elder driver safety.
- Stay active – physical fitness impacts how quickly you can react behind the wheel, as well as your range of motion. Being able to turn your head to look behind you and over your shoulder are important driving skills.
- Limit driving – hitting the roads only when the weather is good can also help an older driver stay safe. If driving after dark is difficult, stick to driving only during daylight hours.
- Minimize distractions – refraining from talking on a cell phone, listening to the radio and eating behind the wheel are just a few ways you can limit distractions and better focus on driving.
- Know medication side effects – as we age, we process medications differently. This puts older adults at higher risk for medication side effects or adverse reactions. Both can impact how safe an older driver is behind the wheel of a car.
- Refresh your skills – it never hurts and may help to take an older driver safety course. Some insurance companies even offer discounts for seniors who complete one.
We know the topic of driving and seniors can often be a contentious one. Our hope is that this information will help make the process of talking about and evaluating senior driver safety a little easier for you and your loved ones.