Older Drivers and Older Cars a Dangerous Combination

Recently, our injury lawyers in Fort Myers urged you to Check on Elderly Loved Ones this holiday season. While loneliness and isolation are a struggle for many seniors, the coronavirus pandemic has increased isolation of many of our vulnerable older loved ones.

But it might also be a good time to check their garage.older-199x300

Much has been written about the risks of older drivers on the road. It’s a critical issue here in Florida, which has more drivers over the age of 65 than any other state. Nearly five million seniors are on Florida roads — twice as many as 20 years ago.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration highlighted the risks during Older Driver Safety Awareness Week December 6-10. The nation’s leading watchdog agency noted driver assistance technology that is becoming standard in most new vehicles can be a great help for older drivers who are dealing with diminished hearing and vision, as well as stiff joints, delayed reaction times and cognitive decline.

But there is just one problem: Few older drivers have such technology in their vehicles.

A new study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found older drivers are staying on the roads in record numbers, and are having fewer accidents, but are still more likely to be seriously injured or killed in a collision, at least in part because they are more likely to be driving older vehicles without advanced safety features.

Older Vehicles Less Safety – Less Safe

IIHS reported drivers over 70 were significantly more likely to drive vehicles that were 16 or more years old, compared to drivers aged 35-54.

Not only do older drivers forgo advanced driver-assist technology found in modern vehicles, but they also skip basic safety features such as electronic stability control and head-protecting side airbags. Features like blind spot monitoring, forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking were also less likely to be found on the checklist of older drivers.

The reality is vehicles have come a long way in just a few short years. Even the technology has gotten much easier to use. Just a few minutes to connect an older driver’s phone to the in-car system can drastically reduce the chances of an accident. Navigation, large touch screens, and advanced safety warning systems are all of great assistance to an older driver.

Choosing a Vehicle for an Older Driver

Cars.com offers car-buying tips for older drivers. Among the things to look for aside from safety features and advanced driver-assistance technology:

  • Automatic transmission
  • Good visibility
  • Ease of use
  • User-friendly multimedia system with large buttons, knob controls
  • Easy-to-read instrument and system control displays
  • Quiet cabin
  • Comfortable ride to combat driver fatigue
  • Power adjustable seats/pedals/steering with memory settings

Our car accident attorneys in Fort Myers know seniors on a fixed income often become more frugal with age. Sometimes the financial concerns are justified. But in many cases, updating to a newer, safer vehicle can be money well spent. Talking to your elderly loved ones about their driving abilities and choice of vehicles can be one more way to help keep them safe.

If you or a loved one is injured, call Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, at 1-800-646-1210.

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