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Older drivers are safer but die more often, according to CDC

The number of older drivers in Ohio and around the country is increasing. Data provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that the number of drivers of the age of 65 or older increased by more than a third between 1999 and 2012, and there are now more than 36 million seniors behind the wheel. The data also indicates that the likelihood of dying in a fatal car crash is significantly higher per mile traveled for drivers who have reached the age of 70, and death rates are highest among those aged 85 or older.

While 5,560 older drivers lost their lives in car accidents during 2012, the CDC data attributes this more to general ill health and frailty than diminished driving skills. Older drivers often die from injuries that younger people would be expected to recover from. However, diminishing cognitive abilities and failing eyesight are sometimes shown to be the causes of accidents involving senior citizens.

The CDC has cited research that found that older drivers are less likely to venture out at night or when road conditions are poor and more likely to wear a seat belt. Older drivers are also far less likely to drink and drive. Younger drivers involved in a fatal accident in 2012 were found to have a BAC at or above the legal limit nearly a quarter of the time. In contrast, the number of intoxicated older drivers involved in a fatal crash in 2012 was only 7 percent.

The damages awarded in car accident lawsuits are often based largely on the severity of the injuries suffered by the plaintiff and the length required for recovery. A personal injury attorney representing an older individual injured in a car accident may take this into consideration and could call upon medical experts to establish that even seemingly minor injuries may be debilitating to the elderly victim.

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