The number of drivers over the age of 65 has increased considerably in the past two decades, giving seniors the opportunity to maintain a positive quality of life. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 7,000 seniors died in motor vehicle accidents in 2017, a considerably higher number when compared to younger drivers.

Several factors may influence what raises the risk of car crash injuries among seniors, and knowing what they are may help you protect yourself or your elderly loved ones.

Health vulnerabilities

Most seniors who are involved in motor vehicle accidents receive serious injuries because of their overall high risk of broken bones, including hip fractures. Senior men are usually more at risk for these types of injuries, likely due in part to a heavier body mass.

Cognitive problems

As a senior, driving may put you or your loved one at a higher risk for car accident injuries due to declining cognitive abilities. Some driving conditions require split-second decisions, such as avoiding another driver’s dangerous actions. Some of these are quite common, including:

  • Swerving
  • Sudden lane changes
  • Tailgating

Poor reaction time may increase the odds of an accident, which can result in serious injuries.

Medication interference

Some medications commonly taken by seniors can cause a variety of side effects, such as drowsiness or changes in vision. These issues, when coupled with getting behind the wheel of a car, can increase the chances of causing an accident. You may want to ask your physician if any medications you take currently may impair your ability to drive.

Avoiding dangerous driving conditions and remaining as healthy and active as possible can lower your risk of injury as a senior motorist. Your physician can help you decide whether continuing to drive is the safest option for you and for those with whom you share the road.