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Older Drivers at a Higher Risk of Fatalities Due to Their Vehicle Choice

Older Drivers at a Higher Risk of Fatalities Due to Their Vehicle ChoiceJokes about older drivers have existed as long as driving has. It may seem cliché to say that older drivers are not safe, but there is data that backs this up. Even though recent studies show that drivers in the 70s and 80s are crashing less than ever before, there is a caveat. When these age groups are involved in accidents, they are usually fatal. The main reason for this? The vehicles they drive.

In newer vehicles, the key selling point is the safety features, but according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), older drivers prefer older vehicles. These types of vehicles come equipped with very few or no safety features at all. While it may be simple to suggest that older drivers just purchase a new vehicle, this may not be the logical solution for them.

Once a person retires, they are often working with a fixed income and that means all of their expenses are strictly calculated. The purchase of a new car will not only raise their insurance rates but also be an additional bill each month. This can throw off their budgets and retirees will often not see the value in a new car versus their tried and true retirement vehicle.

Older drivers are most often seen driving vehicles that are 16 years old or more and are less likely to be seen driving vehicles 3 years old or newer, per IIHS. Not only is cost a concern but so is comfort. Older drivers find comfort in the familiar and these older vehicles offer that to them. There are no beeping sounds or automatic braking for them to be concerned with. They simply just drive from point A to point B.

Safety features are missing from older model cars

There are many features that come standard in newer vehicles that were not standard 10 to 20 years ago. Electronic stability control (ESC) and side airbags are installed in almost all modern vehicles, but “retirement vehicles” do not necessarily come equipped with them.

It has been found that drivers 70 and older who did not have ESC in their vehicles were 37 percent more likely to be fatally wounded. Other safety features they often skip out on or do not look for are blind-spot monitoring, forward collision warning, or automatic emergency braking (AEB).

Another contributing factor is the kind of cars that older drivers choose to drive. Older drivers seem to choose sedans and hatchbacks instead of SUVs. Smaller vehicles do not have the same protection that bigger vehicles offer. This means, older Americans who drive sedans and hatchbacks are exposed to risks on the road that a newer or bigger vehicle would shield them from. Keeping your loved one safe is critical to your family and if they are involved in an accident, it can feel like a hopeless situation. Contact a Chattanooga car accident attorney to discuss your options.

Driving fewer miles does not mean a decreased risk of an accident

Many older adults attribute driving less with lowering their chances of crashing. This is also another contributing factor in their vehicle choices. They assume that since they drive fewer miles they do not need additional safety features since driving less is attributed to safety for this demographic. The reality is that those who drive less than 3,000 miles per year are at a higher risk of crashing.

It has even been found that it is riskier to drive on local roads instead of highways. In contrast, older drivers will limit their highway driving and stick to local roads. While they believe this is keeping them safe, it actually means they are driving the majority of their miles on riskier roads.

Common car accidents for older drivers

IIHS reviewed some of the more common types of car accidents for older drivers. Those accidents include:

Side-impact crashes

Also referred to as T-Bone collisions, these accidents happen when one vehicle hits the side of another. This often results in a t-shape. Injuries can include neck and spinal trauma, head injuries, broken bones, and lacerations. Another study from the IIHS found that drivers 75 and older who are involved in a side-impact crash are four times more likely to die as a result of the accident.

Rear-end collision

The majority of rear-end collisions happen at traffic stops and red lights. One vehicle will hit the back of another vehicle with its front end. While the damage will be primarily sustained on the rear of the vehicle that was hit, injuries can still occur. Most often injuries such as whiplash or concussions are common, and older drivers are at risk of more severe effects with either injury.

Head-on crashes

This kind of accident is often the most catastrophic, especially for older drivers. Two vehicles will crash into each other head-on. They will typically be going in opposite directions and it is rare to see survivors in these kinds of accidents. Injuries of survivors are catastrophic including spinal cord damage and traumatic brain injuries. Studies have also shown that drivers over 75 involved in head-on collisions are three times more likely to die as a result. If your loved one was involved in this kind of accident you need to contact a Chattanooga car accident attorney immediately.

What to do if your elderly relative was hurt in a car accident

The moments after a car accident are critical. If you in the car with your loved one, immediately call emergency services. A “minor” injury for a middle-agsed or younger driver can prove to be catastrophic for an older person. Take photos and videos of the scene if it is safe to do so. You should ensure you have a copy of the police report in hand and the names of any witnesses. After your loved one’s immediate needs are taken care of, it’s time to call a Chattanooga car accident lawyer for help. There could be multiple liable parties, and you will want to have someone on your side.

Did you or a loved one suffer an injury in a Chattanooga car accident? The experienced team at Wagner & Wagner, Attorneys at Law will investigate the crash and protect your right to compensation. Call our office at 423-756-7923, or complete our contact form to discuss your case during an initial consultation. We serve clients in and around Chattanooga, Cleveland, and North Georgia.