6 Senior Driving Safety Tips that Save Lives

timthumbOccasionally there is a news item about a senior citizen who lost control of a vehicle that led to the loss of a life or lives.  Many of these occur when the motorist mistakes the gas pedal for the brake.  Seniors often drive well below the speed limit, frustrating other motorists and leading to accidents.  But just because you turned 65 or are 75 or 80 does not mean you are a liability or an accident waiting to happen.  You do have to recognize a time, however, when your son, daughter or spouse may wonder or decide to have a talk with you and say, “when can I take away the keys?”

Here are 6 senior driving safety tips that can save lives that any senior citizen or the child or spouse of one can consider regarding driving:

  1. Have your eyes checked every year. Eyesight can diminish quickly as we age and conditions like cataracts or retinal problems can severely impair your sight.  You also may have problems with night vision only.
  2. Keep your car in excellent condition by having the steering and braking checked every 6 months or if you notice a problem. Keep your tires inflated properly and check the treads every few months.
  3. Have your hearing checked annually and get a hearing aid if your doctor suggests it. Don’t listen to loud music or the radio.  It’s distracting.  Don’t talk on the phone. It’s distracting.  Texting is illegal.
  4. You may need help with steering and use of the pedals. A driving rehabilitation specialist can suggest aids to use so that you can drive your car safely.
  5. If you become too frightened to drive at night or in heavy traffic, avoid rush hour times and drive only during the day. Avoid bad weather and plan your route before you drive so you know where you are going.
  6. Check with your doctor to be sure any medication you are taking prohibits you from driving.

Is it Time to Give Up Driving?

timthumb (1)Warning signs that it may be time to consider alternative means of transportation include:

  • Even with glasses or contact lenses, you find it difficult to see signs, traffic lights or can no longer drive at night. Blurred vision and sensitivity to light are obvious signs.
  • You find yourself increasingly anxious about driving and drive well below the speed limit at all times.
  • Your reflexes have substantially diminished. You have mistaken the gas pedal for the brake more than once and find you react to stopped vehicles or other conditions much too slowly.
  • Are you finding that you are getting lost even when driving in familiar areas or to well-known places?
  • Are you drifting into the other lane too often, braking or accelerating for no reason or using or not using the turn signal when appropriate or required?
  • Are you having close calls or hitting parked cars, posts or barriers, fences or mailboxes or driving too far into your garage?
  • Are other people you trust telling you to consider giving up driving?

There is life after driving.  There are many benefits to not having a car including no more monthly insurance premiums, no more car payments and paying $40 for gas at least twice per week.  You no longer have to worry about parking, parking and other violations, having your car broken into or stolen or sitting in a traffic jam.  You can easily save significant moies without a car.

Alternatives include taking a cab or a ride share vehicle like Uber or Lyft.  If you can, walk for small errands or to visit someone.  Buses and other municipal transportation have senior rates below those charged to others.

Accidents with Senior Drivers

Unfortunately, seniors do account for a disproportionate number of car accidents.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), elderly drivers (65 and over) account for 12% of all traffic fatalities and 17% of all pedestrian deaths despite comprising only 9% of the population.

If you were hit by a senior driver, your Massachusetts car accident lawyer can present your injury claim to show that certain conduct by the senior motorist contributed to the accident or was the substantial cause.  For instance, in our office we have demonstrated the following by the elderly driver in serious injury cases:

  • The driver was using a medication or combination of drugs that impaired driving and judgment.
  • Hearing and vision are so affected that the individual would not have passed a vision test.
  • The individual suffers from Parkinson’s disease, stroke or some other condition that should have rendered the person unfit to drive.
  • The senior had multiple violations and warnings on their driving record.
  • The driver was proceeding well below the speed limit and constituted a hazard to others that led to the accident

If you were hit by a senior driver, you are entitled to compensation if the elderly motorist was negligent.  Your damages may include:

  • Past and future wage loss
  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Permanent disability and loss of cognitive functioning
  • Permanent disfigurement
  • Diminished quality of life
  • Spousal claim for loss of consortium

Contact car accident lawyers Neil Burns and Roshan Jain of Boston if you or a loved one were hit by a senior driver and suffered injuries.  With over 30 years of experience serving injured victims in car accidents throughout the Boston area, he has obtained settlements and verdicts in the millions of dollars. Call him and see why so many clients have and continue to trust the law firm of Burns and Jain with their injury claims.