Senior drivers an increasing safety issue — older motorists at greater risk of a Chicago car accident

Our Chicago car accident lawyers frequently talk about the dangers faced by teen drivers on the road. But it is our ever-growing population of older drivers who are the fastest-growing at-risk category.

The Washington Post reports that drivers over the age of 75 were more likely than any other age group to be involved in a fatal crash. They were also twice as likely to say they planned to drive into their 90s than those ages 65 to 74.Meanwhile, the percentage of those over 75 who remain licensed to drive has increased in the last decade, from 73 percent to 78 percent. And the 30 million senior drivers on the road could double in the next two decades as the Baby Boomers hit the road to retirement. The resulting conversation about when it’s time to hang up the keys “is happening all across the United States in families up and down the streets every day,” said Elinor Ginzler, a senior vice president of AARP. “It’s a huge issue.”

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that 4,268 motorists over the age of 70 were killed in car accidents in 2008 — significantly more than the 3,775 who died in 1975. The elderly population has also doubled during that time, from 14.5 million to 27.5 million.

Drivers are living longer and they are dealing with debilitating illnesses — including heart disease, Parkinson’s, dementia, Alzheimer’s and diabetes — which can make driving an increasingly dangerous proposition.

“In the old days, or even 20 years ago, people just did not live long enough for this to be a problem,” said Elin Schold-Davis, head of the American Occupational Therapy Association’s Older Driver Initiative, who notes that some older drivers are taking potent medications that fog concentration. “People are living with a level of impairment that is unprecedented.”

A total of 163 drivers over the age of 65 were killed in Illinois car accidents in 2008, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The federal government offers driving resources for older adults and families. Topics include:

-Safe driving for older adults
-Driver transition education
-Talking with older drivers
-Screening and evaluation
-Medication and older drivers
-Adapting the vehicle for older adults
-Understanding and influencing older drivers
-Driving safely and aging gracefully
-Family and friends concerned about an older driver

The Chicago accident attorneys at Abels & Annes offer free and confidential appointments to anyone involved in an accident in the Chicago area. Call (866) 99-ABELS. There is no fee unless you win.

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