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Are Senior Drivers Causing More Fatal Car Accidents?

senior fatal car accidents

The most common cause of a car accident is some form of human error. Whether that is from texting while driving, improper maintenance, poor manufacturing, or any other reason, human error causes many collisions every year.

Elderly drivers are often blamed for car accidents. However, a recent study contradicts that old claim, showing that there is another reason for older drivers to sustain personal injury in a car accident: older cars.

Older Cars

A recent study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) revealed that older drivers are involved in fewer car accidents than younger drivers. However, elderly drivers are more likely to die in a crash than younger drivers. Why? Because older drivers hang onto their cars longer than younger drivers.

Newer cars matter for keeping drivers safe on the road because with each new year comes new safety features, equipment, and technology. More airbags, better deployment, and more driver-assist features make everyone safer on the road.

Older drivers tend to skip upgrading their cars like younger drivers do. It may be because older drivers have less extra income to spend on new vehicles or because they simply like their car and do not want to get a new one. However, skipping these upgrades can be dangerous for these elderly drivers, as they miss out on the increased safety provided by a new car.

The IIHS study found one safety feature, electronic stability control, causes a 37 percent higher probability of an elderly driver fatality in a car without this feature. When older drivers forgo this new technology, they are more likely to end up with serious injuries.

According to the IIHS, vehicle size also matters. Elderly drivers are more likely to have smaller vehicles, which expose them to greater risks if they are in an accident. Because their vehicle is smaller, there is less protection provided in the event of a collision, especially if they are hit by a much larger vehicle, such as an SUV or a commercial truck.

To keep elderly drivers safe, the IIHS recommends new vehicles. Getting a new vehicle can be expensive, especially if someone is on a fixed income. However, the average elderly driver has a car over 16 years old. Cutting the age of their vehicle even in half would go a long way to improving the safety features of their car and increasing the likelihood of them staying safe in an accident.

New Car Safety Features for Elderly Drivers

The IIHS has recommendations for key features elderly drivers should look for in a new car. They also recommend car buyers review their top safety awards, which rate vehicles based on crash test results. These awards can help drivers choose a safe car.

Key features elderly car buyers should look for in a new car or a newer model used car include:

  • Automatic transmission
  • Blind spot monitoring
  • Backup cameras
  • Lane assist
  • Anti-lock braking system
  • Easy-to-read instruments
  • Comfortable seats

Proper Precautions Are Not a Guarantee

Even taking the proper precautions by getting a new car with updated safety features is not a guarantee that you will stay completely safe on the road. Human error still causes lots of accidents each year, and you may unfortunately find yourself involved in an accident when you least expect it. If you do, there are certain steps you can take to help you prove that someone else was to blame. Especially if you were driving an older model car that did not have upgraded safety features, you may have suffered serious injuries and may need extensive medical care to make a full recovery. Preserving evidence is your best way to show someone else is to blame for your accident and should be responsible for your medical bills and other financial losses.

Call 911. Even if you do not think you have suffered serious injuries, call 911. Doing so will send emergency medical personnel to your accident scene, where they will evaluate you and make sure that your medical needs are addressed. The police will also come to the crash site where they will speak with you, the other driver, and any witnesses. They will put this information together in a police accident report. Although their report may not assign fault, it will give detailed information about how your accident occurred.

Take pictures and video. Some of the best evidence of what happened in your car accident will be pictures and video. Get images of the entire accident scene, your car, the other vehicle, your injuries, and anything else that seems relevant. These images and videos can prove invaluable when attempting to show that someone else was negligent and caused your accident.

Speak with witnesses. The police will speak with witnesses to your collision when they arrive at the accident scene. However, some witnesses will leave before the police get to speak with them. At the very minimum, get witness contact information so that your legal team can speak with them as soon as possible. Over just a few days, witnesses may forget details about what they saw, a tragedy because they often provide unique insights about the seconds leading up to your accident.

See your doctor. Even if you received emergency medical care at the accident scene, you should see your regular doctor as soon as possible. Your family doctor knows your body better than anyone and will be able to quickly tell how your injuries have affected your life. The doctor will also keep detailed records of your injuries and the steps you need to take to recover. This information is important to show your level of pain and suffering, something that can help to increase the amount of compensation you can receive.

Keep a journal. Keeping a journal is important to record your feelings and pain after your accident. Over time, you will not recall every hurdle or setback you faced during your road to recovery. By writing in your journal each day, you guarantee that your pain levels, your thoughts about how your life has been affected, and whether you were able to participate in important life events will be recorded. Your journal keeps your recovery in your own words and may show the great lengths you had to go to get better.

Contact a lawyer. The last thing on your mind after a car accident may be calling a lawyer. However, depending on the severity of your car accident injuries, you may face a lifetime of medical care and attention. This will not be inexpensive. By speaking with a lawyer, you set in motion a series of events that can alleviate the financial burden you may face. You did not cause the accident, so should not bear any of the responsibility of paying your medical bills and other financial losses. That should be the sole responsibility of the at-fault driver. Your lawyer may be able to help you hold the other driver accountable for the accident and help you collect fair compensation so that the only thing you need to worry about is your health, wellbeing, and recovery from your car accident injuries.

Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC, Protect Your Rights after an Accident

Car accidents happen for countless reasons. Many people mistakenly blame older drivers for being unsafe on the road and causing accidents. In reality, it is the older vehicles that are more likely at fault. If you or a loved one gets injured in a car accident, reach out to the Philadelphia car accident lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC. We will investigate the cause of the accident and hold the negligent parties accountable. Call us today at 215-569-4888 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, Abington, and Media, Pennsylvania; Wilmington, Delaware; and Haddonfield, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout the surrounding areas.