Car Crash Risks for Elderly Drivers with a Fall History
A recent study conducted by the AAA Foundation compared aging drivers who had suffered injuries in one or more falls to other older drivers with no prior history of falling. The results of this study showed that those with a fall history were far more likely to be in a car crash than those who had never fallen. Other studies have been conducted since that time, including one in 2020, that yielded similar results.
Why are older drivers who have fallen and been injured more likely to have a crash? Are there specific types of injuries that cause this? PKSD discusses more about elderly drivers and whether fall prevention may help older motorists remain safer drivers longer.
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What Study Results Revealed
Studies conducted on aging drivers over the last few years revealed some interesting findings of how preexisting falls impact elderly drivers’ risk for having a car crash.
AAA Foundation 2016 – About the Study
Drivers in the study were age 60 or older and had at least one prior fall with an injury in a three-year period. Study results revealed these two primary ways that falling may raise an older driver’s risk for causing a car crash:
- Older adults do not heal as well or as quickly and may be more likely to lose functionality, strength or dexterity.
- After being injured in a fall, an older driver may be more fearful of falling again. As a result, many seniors may avoid physical activities, causing them to continue to lose not only muscle, but also mobility and confidence in their ability to do other functional tasks.
Journal of the American Geriatrics Society
This study was conducted to learn more about the relationship between falls and driving risks among aging adults. Researchers examined 15 separate studies that included nearly 47,000 elderly drivers. Their findings showed that older adults with a fall history were 40 percent more at risk for a car crash than those who had never fallen.
Injuries from Falls That May Impact Driver Ability
As we age, we become more prone to falls due to failing eyesight and many other physical or medical conditions. In fact, more than three million of our country’s elderly are treated for fall injuries in emergency rooms nationwide each year. One in five falls results in a serious injury, such as a fracture or head injury, and more than 300,000 senior citizens are hospitalized each year with hip fractures.
These are just some of the common injuries from falls that, even after recovering, can reduce an elderly driver’s ability to safely operate a vehicle:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Hip fractures
- Wrist injuries
- Shoulder injuries
- Leg fractures
- Spinal cord injuries
Fall Prevention That May Help Aging Drivers Avoid a Car Crash
Often as people get older, they may become less physically active. Unfortunately, decreased physical activity has been shown to negatively impact a person’s balance, strength and mental alertness. This means it can also affect a driver’s response time on the road.
Researchers suggested that there are steps aging drivers can take to reduce risk factors that could make a fall more likely. By being proactive about fall prevention, aging drivers could reduce the risks that may lead to falls and/or subsequently cause car crashes, including:
- Caring for vision health, such as getting cataract surgery to address and correct cloudy vision
- Participating in regular exercise to improve and maintain physical strength and mental health
- Getting involved in activities to maintain mental alertness and functionality
- Obtaining rehabilitation and physical therapy after a fall to help regain balance, strength and functional ability
If you have a family member showing signs of decreasing physical health, poor eyesight or becoming confused when driving, it may be time to address these concerns with a family doctor. It does not necessarily mean giving up driving, but at a minimum, it warrants taking a closer look at your loved one’s overall health and well-being.
Getting Legal Help for Injuries Caused by a Negligent Driver
At PKSD, we are prepared to assist those injured by a negligent driver. Our team of legal professionals is ready to handle your case through every step of the personal injury claims process. We have represented injured victims throughout Wisconsin, recovering millions in compensation on behalf of our clients.
Learn how we may be able to help you in a free initial consultation with one of our qualified attorneys. If you have a case and we represent you, there are no upfront costs or fees to pay. We do not get paid unless we recover compensation for you through a settlement or verdict.
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