Why are seniors more likely to get injured in car accidents?

Seniors may have a higher risk of injury in car crashes due to age-related physical and mental declines, prescription medications and higher susceptibility.

Oregon residents of all ages have a chance to get in a car accident that causes injury while driving or riding in a motor vehicle. According to SeniorDriving.AAA.com, people 65 years old and older, often referred to as seniors, are at a 17 times higher risk of dying from injuries caused by an automobile collision than younger adults. 221,000 seniors were injured in car accidents over the course of a single year. In that same year, 5,709 older people were killed.

Age-related declines

As a person gets older, his or her body starts to change. These changes can make it harder for seniors to drive. Reduced vision, for example, might make it harder for someone to see at night or use their peripheral vision. Both of these vision changes can lead to a higher risk of getting in a car accident due to a difficulty keeping track of the changes in traffic.

Other age-related physical and mental changes can make it hard for older drivers to function properly on the road, such as the following:

  • Arthritis can affect any joint in the body and make it hard to flex, twist and turn, which reduces ability to operate steering wheel and watch the path of other vehicles.
  • Slower cognitive function can make it challenging to react to traffic or obstacles in the road.
  • Weaker muscles often translate to reduced range of motion and flexibility, which makes it harder for seniors to press the pedals or turn the wheel.

Some diseases, like Alzheimer's, strokes and heart attacks, can also affect a person's ability to drive safely as well.

Prescription medication

Because of the increased health issues, older Americans tend to take more prescription medications than their younger counterparts. In fact, 75 percent of senior drivers reported they were taking some sort of prescription medicine. These same seniors may be unaware of the effects the medication can have on their ability to operate a motor vehicle. For example, some medications can cause drowsiness.

Increased susceptibility

Seniors are not necessarily getting in more accidents than their younger counterparts. The higher injury and fatality rate is often related to an increased fragility as opposed to an increased likelihood of getting in a crash. Even if the older drivers are treated by an emergency responder, they are at a higher risk of having medical complications, which means they could still die from the injuries sustained during a traffic collision.

When Oregon seniors are involved in a car wreck, there is a higher chance that they will be injured. No matter who is involved in an injury-causing accident, it can be beneficial to work with an attorney who is familiar with personal injury cases.