Safety & Older Drivers: Identifying and Approaching the Risks Associated with Aging Drivers

Our job would be much simpler if each car crash had only one causal factor, one clear factor that led to the collision and stood alone in being responsible for the event. However, this is rarely the case, and a major part of our job is to trace back and identify the various factors that together led to the accident. One factor that seems to be a major element in more and more vehicle accidents is the age of the driver.

While we often hear laments about the quality of teen drivers, the concern here is at the other end of the spectrum: the dangers associated with a driver of advancing age. The safety of older drivers is a topic that can be difficult to discuss and difficult for many injured victims to even bring up, but it is a topic our Panama City aging driver accident law firm believes must be discussed, both in the course of accident litigation and in order to prevent an accident from occurring in the first place.

Single-Vehicle Jackson County Car Crash Claims Life of 79-Year-Old Man

Last weekend, Florida's WJHG covered a fatal crash in Jackson County. On the morning of Saturday December 7, Kenneth Ray Davis was driving his 2001 Buick LeSabre westbound on Nubbin Road. At approximately 7 A.M., the 79-year-old Greenwood, Florida man began drifting to the left and ended up on the road's south shoulder.

His vehicle spun out of control until it came to a sudden stop when the Buick's right side collided with a large oak. Davis was trapped in the wrecked car and was subsequently pronounced dead at the scene by Jackson County EMS. An investigation by the Florida Highway Patrol is underway. It is not clear if Davis's physical or mental condition played a role in the crash. Investigators have reported that alcohol was not involved.

Florida At-Risk Driver Council Focuses on Aging Drivers

In 2004, the Florida At-Risk Driver Council produced a report titled "The Effects of Aging on Driving Ability." The Council cited statistics from fiscal year 2002-2003 finding that, out of 14,797,212 Florida drivers, 2,204,104 were 65 to 74 years of age and 242,480 were age 85 or older. Although the authors recognize that age alone does not determine driving ability, age-related conditions can leave these aging drivers at risk for accident involvement. Notably, motor vehicle injuries are the most common cause of injury-related death for those age 65 to 74 and the second leading cause (following falls) for those between 75 and 84 years of age.

The Council recommended continued work to refine assessment, training, and identification efforts aimed at reducing the number of at-risk seniors behind the wheel. Throughout the report, the authors emphasized the need to tie seniors to services, whether this is in the form of a referral to driver improvement courses or a link to resources for alternative transportation options.

The latter was also a major focus itself, with the group suggesting new senior-focused transportation programs and changes to existing structures to make them more accessible. Overall, the Council called for a comprehensive and collaborative approach that treats seniors with respect and recognizes the delicacy of reduced independence, while also keeping in mind the important safety concerns associated with aging and at-risk drivers.

The Dual Purpose of Injury Litigation

While not every aging driver is an at-risk driver, there are dangers that increase with age, and the increasing number of older drivers makes this a growing concern. At-risk older drivers can be a danger to themselves and to others on the roads. As an injured person, it may feel difficult to raise questions about whether the age of the at-fault driver played a factor in your crash. First, as your injury law firm in Panama City, it is our job to raise those issues for you.

Second, remember that raising the issue of age-related decline is not only about seeking compensation. It is also about ensuring the safety of others by raising an important safety issue, both in general and as to a specific at-risk driver. That mix, helping the injured and preventing future injuries, is one of the things we love about our work.

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