One of the prime contributing factors to teen collisions is a lack of driving experience. Young adults cause many crashes because they simply do not have enough practice responding to different, challenging traffic conditions. In theory, that should mean that older adults are much safer drivers than teenagers. However, older adults may still cause motor vehicle collisions. Years of practice do not always translate into safer conduct on the road.
Older adults may have slightly elevated overall crash risk when compared to those in their prime earning years. They may also may suffer more challenges when a crash occurs due to certain factors outside of their control.
Injuries could be worse
Older adults experience physical changes that make car crashes more dangerous. A slow drop in bone density is one such concern. Older adults are far more likely to suffer fractures in car crashes then younger people who have stronger, denser bones. Not only are fractures more likely, but they could potentially be more severe when they occur. Comminuted fractures where the bone breaks into many small pieces can potentially occur when someone with lower bone density experiences a major motor vehicle collision.
Recovery could take longer
Bone density isn’t the only thing that decreases as people age. Healing ability tends to decline as well. Therefore, the time it takes the body to recover from fractures, internal injuries and other damage caused by a car wreck could be much longer than it would be for younger people. In scenarios involving open injuries, infection risk could also be higher because of diminished immune system function as people age. In other words, older drivers are at elevated risk of serious injury and may have a much harder time recovering should they end up hurt in a crash.
Bias during the investigation
When a police officer pulls up to the scene of a crash, they should remain objective as they analyze the situation. However, personal bias often influences fault determinations after collisions. Age discrimination against those over the age of 50 is a serious social issue in the United States. Police officers may leap to the conclusion that the older adult must have made some kind of mistake at the wheel. The average person’s reticence to admit culpability for a crash may compound this bias, as the driver actually at fault for the crash could play into a police officer’s prejudices.
Older adults have much to risk during a crash, and they may have more reason to worry about the state declaring them at fault for a wreck regardless of who actually caused a particular collision. As such, acknowledging and attempting to offset the unique risks that come with driving later in life can benefit older adults and the people who care for them.