Older drivers may pose more dangers on the road, indicate studies

Older drivers may have more experience, but some senior citizens may become less safe behind the wheel as they age.

With age comes experience, or so the saying goes. This is true in nearly all instances, including driving skill. Drivers who have obeyed traffic rules and observed safe habits for decades are more likely to avoid accidents than younger, more inexperienced drivers. However, there may come a certain age when it is less safe for Knoxville drivers to get behind the wheel. Around age 80, according to Consumer Reports, people may be several times more at risk of being involved in a fatal car accident than their younger counterparts.

Statistics by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveal that each day, approximately 15 senior citizens are killed and 500 more are injured in car accidents across the country. There are numerous factors related to aging that may contribute to accidents for many older drivers.

Government studies supporting older driver risk

Several studies have solidified this evidence. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, studies have pinpointed a higher risk of fatal accidents involving older drivers at intersections. In particular, senior citizens may be more prone to getting into side-swipe, rear-end or T-bone collisions. They also tend to get into more intersection accidents where stop or yield signs are present, rather than traffic lights.

In other studies, reported by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, senior citizens are more likely to fail to yield the right of way. They may also have difficulty correctly judging an oncoming vehicle’s speed or the gap between vehicles, as well as failing to watch for or notice oncoming traffic, bicycles or pedestrians.

Condition affecting driving for seniors

What are the age-related factors that can make driving more dangerous for senior citizens? According to NIH Senior Health, they may include declining physical health, injuries or cognitive conditions that reduce driving ability and skill. Some of the ways that age-related factors may cause accidents include the following:

  • Poor vision preventing a driver from seeing an obstacle or hazard
  • Reduced hearing keeping a driver from hearing an emergency vehicle, train whistle, car horn or other safety-related traffic noise
  • Medications causing sleepiness, dizziness or confusion
  • Cognitive difficulties brought upon by stroke complications, early Alzheimer’s or dementia reducing driving skill
  • Illnesses or other physical impairments making it more difficult to operate a motor vehicle

To address these potential issues, many states have included age-related provisions in their driver’s license renewal procedures. These range from having to pass a vision or medical test after a certain age, to renewing driver’s licenses more frequently or renewing in person, rather than by mail or online. However, there are currently no specific age requirements regarding driver’s licensing in Tennessee.

If you are injured in an accident caused by another driver, you may wish to contact an experienced Tennessee personal injury attorney. An attorney may be able to advise you on whether you might be eligible for compensation, as well as put together the strongest possible case.


Ogle, Rowell & Penland, P.C.

Ogle, Rowell & Penland, P.C.