Is Poor Vision Among Seniors a Factor in Auto Accidents?
Because the baby boomers are aging, it is believed that the number of drivers over the age of seventy will triple over the next twenty years. Generally speaking, as drivers age they tend to become more cautious and conservative on the road, modifying their driving habits in order to avoid the busiest highways or driving at night. Even so, older drivers are significantly more likely than younger ones to be involved in multi-vehicle crashes, most especially at intersections.
Research on Seniors and Auto Accidents
Research indicates that those over 65 are at a slightly increased risk of being involved in an auto accident, but after the age of 75, the risk of driver injuries and fatalities increases sharply. The contributors to this phenomenon include poor judgment or hesitation when making left-hand turns, drifting across lanes, a greatly lessened ability to change behavior to adapt to an unexpected traffic situation, and poor vision. One particular study shows that drivers over the age of 75 are much more likely to be cited for failing to yield to pedestrians, backing in an unsafe manner and failing to stop at a flashing red light or a stop sign. It is believed that a large percentage of these offenses are due to poor vision among the elderly.
How Our Eyes Change Over Time
Human vision, perception and reaction times naturally decline over time, meaning that many elderly drivers are impaired to some degree by the effects of aging. Our eyes lose their natural ability to focus quickly and our peripheral vision narrows. This can account for the number of seniors involved in intersection accidents—due to the restrictions in peripheral vision, some seniors simply do not see the car coming from the side. Additionally, our eyes become less sensitive to light as we age and our night vision becomes much poorer as our pupils shrink, allowing less light to enter the eyes. Because the pupil's response to dim light steadily decreases, by the age of 80 it is virtually non-existent, meaning low light situations are particularly problematic. The lenses of our eyes become yellower, making the discrimination of colors in the blue spectrum difficult, and contrast sensitivity declines steadily as well.
The Difficulties in Restricting the Driving Habits of Older Drivers
Although it seems apparent that older drivers tend to have more accidents due to a decline in vision, the problem is not as simplistic as it appears. Much of the time the ability to drive is one of the last vestiges of independence for the elderly. When their keys are taken away by concerned children or by motor vehicle departments—due to an inability to pass the vision test—their world immediately becomes smaller. They are no longer able to go and do what they want or need, and even things we take for granted, such as running to the grocery store or going to visit a friend, are suddenly no longer within reach. It becomes necessary to depend on a friend or family member any time the senior wants to leave their home, and this sudden decrease in independence can lead to a sharp decline in mental and physical capacities. For all these reasons, many children of seniors are conflicted about taking away their parent's driving privileges.
Balance the idea that seniors are more likely to cause accidents due to poor vision with the fact that likewise so are teenaged drivers considered more hazardous to other drivers on the road. Seniors simply need to be aware of how declining vision can affect their driving ability, and use extra caution in intersections and when driving in low light situations. If you have been the victim of an accident directly related to the vision problems of an elderly person, you probably feel compassion for the senior. It can be worthwhile to discuss the issue with an attorney who can balance out the merits of whether or not to file a lawsuit and attempt to recoup your losses.
Put Our Law Firm's Over 37 Years of Legal Experience to Work For Your Accident Claim!
Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, assists victims of Georgia car wrecks and other traffic collisions in the Southeast recover compensation for their injuries and losses. This may include monetary compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, punitive damages if the at-fault driver's conduct rose to the level of gross negligence and more. We strive to achieve the most favorable outcome possible for our clients under the law.
Our law firm has over 37 years of experience in representing car accident victims across Georgia and in the Southeast. Contact us to schedule your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.
Montlick & Associates, Attorneys at Law
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Telephone: 1 (404) 529-6333
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