Senior Citizens and Car Accidents

Understanding the Impact of Car Accidents on Senior Drivers

A significant portion of the population is reaching the senior stage. In fact, about 20% of all drivers are senior citizens. This period of life comes with its own challenges, and one of those is a possible uptick in car accidents. Car accidents have a profound impact on everyone involved, but senior drivers are at heightened risk for negative outcomes. Learn more about the relationship between car accidents and senior drivers, and if you’ve been involved in a collision, let us help. Call Gardner Law Group at 228-436-6555 to schedule a consultation with our team now.

Changes in Driving Ability

Over time, senior drivers may see major changes in their driving abilities. The aging process leads to physical and cognitive changes. Limited vision, slower reaction times, and impaired hearing are all common among senior drivers. These issues can negatively affect an individual’s ability to drive safely. Cognitively, senior drivers may experience confusion, and stress when placed in unexpected situations, and difficulty making sound decisions. When combined with health issues like arthritis and osteoporosis, accidents are both more likely and more dangerous.

Vulnerability to Serious Injury

When seniors are involved in car accidents, they often suffer far worse outcomes than younger drivers. They are considerably more fragile than younger drivers, due to more limited mobility and decreased bone density. Even if a senior driver is involved in a minor accident, they may experience serious injuries like fractures, traumatic brain injuries, and organ damage.

Senior drivers may also have health conditions that make them prone to more serious injuries. As we noted, diagnoses like arthritis and osteoporosis are relatively common. Additionally, seniors may have heart conditions that make it more difficult for them to handle the physical and mental stress of a collision. If a full recovery is possible, it often takes far longer and requires far more medical care.

Psychological Trauma of Accidents

Car accidents often lead to psychological trauma for victims, especially if they experience severe injuries themselves or witness a loved one sustain major injuries. Senior drivers may be at heightened risk for negative psychological outcomes, particularly if they are in the early stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s. Senior drivers often report anxiety, fear, guilt, or self-blame if they caused the collision. 

Not only do these psychological issues negatively affect an individual’s quality of life, but they can also affect their ability to drive safely in the future. A senior driver who is involved in an accident may refuse to drive, struggle to drive without a chaperone or take complex routes to avoid the site of an accident. Affected individuals may need assistance from a therapist or psychiatrist to navigate this difficult time.

Loss of Independence

Unfortunately for many seniors, a car accident means a loss of license. If senior drivers’ abilities have been failing for some time, an accident may be what finally causes their family members to realize that driving is no longer an option for them. Senior drivers may then have their licenses revoked, which can be a huge blow to their self-esteem and independence. Remember that at that point in their lives, they have likely been driving for decades. Suddenly having to rely on family members, driving services, or public transportation after having complete independence for most of your life can be emotionally devastating.

Options for Senior Drivers

It is crucial that senior drivers get the support they need as they navigate this stage of life. Attentive medical providers and family members should be aware of their driving skills and know when it’s time to step in. If a driver is involved in a crash, they must be able to lean on loved ones for support. This may come in the form of assisting with the insurance claim process, providing help getting around until they feel comfortable driving again or exploring mental health treatment options.

Explore Your Legal Options with Gardner Law Group

Have you been injured in a car accident? Let’s find out if you are entitled to compensation from the liable party. Our team is ready to help you learn more about your options and get started on your personal injury claim. Set up your free consultation right away by contacting us online or calling us at 228-436-6555.