Age causes many physiological changes. While many of these are mere inconveniences, some can be dangerous. This is particularly true for driving behaviors that change with age. Now, a new study has found that older drivers are more likely to cause car accidents after sustaining a fall. Learn more about the connection between age and car accidents, the safety standards to which all drivers must be held, and how injury victims can obtain the compensation they deserve.
The New Research
The Journal of the American Geriatrics Society reports on a study which found that older drivers were 40 percent more likely to cause a car accident if they had sustained a fall prior to the car accident. The mechanisms of this causal relationship could not yet be determined. For example, the researchers could not definitively say that falls caused physiological changes which lead to later car accidents, or whether the same physiological changes of age were responsible for both the falls and the car accidents. It is important for older drivers to take basic proactive measures in order to identify physiological problems as soon as possible with regular medical checkups. Hearing and vision, in particular, should be tested. Poor vision can make it especially difficult to drive at night.
It is interesting to note that the research did not find that older drivers involved in an accident would be more likely to later sustain a fall. Rather, it determined that suffering a fall acted as a “predictor” for the likelihood that an older adult would later cause a motor vehicle accident. The researchers posited that this could be caused by one of several different methods. For example: the fall could cause a physical injury, which limits functional mobility and impairs driving performance. Alternatively, falls may increase fear of falling, which in turns reduces physical activity. Or the psychological effects of a fall may simply lead to adverse changes in driving behavior.
Older Drivers Held to the Same Safety Standards
There is much more research needed in order to determine whether older drivers are consistently at an increased risk of causing car accidents. If so, there will be larger public policy debates about the appropriate way to address the problem. Driver’s license restrictions, increased insurance premiums, public funds for injury victims, and other measures may all be viable options.
Until these options are explored further, it is important for car accident injury victims to hold negligent drivers accountable for their dangerous behavior, so that the roads of Alabama can be made safer for everyone.
Under Section 32-5A-170 of the Alabama Code, all drivers are required to drive no faster than is reasonable and prudent for current conditions. Section 32-5A-174 also requires drivers not to drive so slow as to impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic. All drivers must be held to these legal standards.
While older drivers may be in a sympathetic position, they, too, must be held accountable for driving safely. An experienced Alabama auto accident attorney can help injury victims secure the compensation to which they are entitled by law.