During the holidays, families across the country will be joining together to give thanks and spend time with family. Unfortunately, during the holidays the number of fatal car accidents in Birmingham will increase dramatically.
Family members should use this time to discuss the dangers they’re likely to face on our roadways with elderly family members. Many older drivers will set out on our roadways to join together with their families across the state. The rest of us will spend more time with elderly loved ones than at any other time of the year. These drivers may not drive as frequently as you and me and may have forgotten how to handle the holiday traffic. They can also be experiencing some aging affects that can hinder their abilities behind the wheel.
The holidays are a good time to assess the driving abilities of older loved ones and to talk with them about staying safe behind the wheel.
Researchers with the Center for Advanced Public Safety (CAPS) at the University of Alabama conclude that the majority of fatal traffic accidents happen late at night or during the early morning hours.
Our Birmingham car accident attorneys understand that the fatality rates for drivers begin to drastically increase when a driver reaches the age of 65. According to a recent study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, drivers age 75- to 84-years-old have the same death rate as inexperienced, teenage drivers. Once a driver hits 85-years-old, the death rate skyrockets to nearly four times higher than that for teens.
“You always hear about teenage (driver) risks being so incredibly high, but to me the amazing thing is there are two clusters you really have to focus on”: teens and elderly drivers, says Paul Fischbeck of Carnegie Mellon.
How aging affects the ability to drive, according to USA TODAY:
-The Brain: With an aging driver, reaction times are reduced significantly, confusion grows, distractions have a greater impact and quick decisions become more difficult.
-Eyesight: Aging eyes cause a number of problems that can hinder a driver’s vision, including glaucoma, muscular degeneration and cataracts. These conditions can hinder an elderly driver’s ability to see road signs, road lights and surrounding vehicles.
-The Neck: With age, the neck stiffens, motion becomes more strenuous, looking over one’s shoulder gets to be more difficult and arthritis can make it tough for a driver to grip the wheel.
-Knees, Ankles & Feet: Your joints stiffen, your knee and foot movement becomes harder and more painful and the gas and the brake pedals can get mixed up.
-Medications: Many common medications can cause drowsiness and can put your elderly driver in harm’s way. Make sure elderly drivers know the side effects of their medications.
Before planning your holiday celebrations, make sure that elderly family members are alright to drive to help reduce the risks of an accident. Consider holding your celebratory feast at a home nearby to accommodate their needs or volunteer to come over to their house to celebrate the holidays.
Earlier Sun Set and Greater Risks for Car Accidents in Tuscaloosa, Alabama Injury Attorneys Blog, November 15, 2011
Drowsy Driving Prevention Week to Reduce Fatal Car Accidents in Alabama, Nation, Alabama Injury Attorneys Blog, November 10, 2011