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What Role Does a Driver’s Age Play in Car Accident Risk?

By Ramsey Prather on November 20, 2023

A driver’s age may impact their ability to drive safely. There are a number of factors that increase driving hazards for teenage drivers and drivers who are 65 and older. In Georgia, there are restrictions on teen drivers, and all drivers are required to have their vision tested when they renew a driver’s license to help keep everyone safe on the road.

Challenges Faced by Teen Drivers

In a recent year, 2608 people were killed in automobile crashes that involved drivers between the ages of 15 and 18, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). Driving is a skill that takes years to master, so it’s not surprising that younger drivers are more prone to accidents. But inexperience isn’t the only factor that contributes to higher accident rates among teen drivers.

There are physiological factors that make it more difficult for teens to make safe decisions. The prefrontal cortex, which regulates a person’s actions and emotions, is one of the last regions of the brain to fully mature. The prefrontal cortex plays a crucial role in judgment and decision-making, but it is not completely developed until age 25.

A major cause of teenage driving collisions is distractions caused by traveling with other teens inside the car. Recognizing the safety challenges that teen drivers face, the State of Georgia has special rules for 16- and 17-year-old drivers. Drivers under the age of 18 are issued a provisional Class D license that stipulates the following:

  • For the first six months, only immediate family members are allowed to travel inside the automobile.
  • During the second six months, only one passenger under 21 who is not an immediate family member is allowed inside the vehicle.
  • During the teen driver’s second year, only three passengers under 21 who are not immediate family are allowed inside the vehicle.

There are several factors that contribute to the high number of teen-related automobile crashes and make driving less safe for teens, including:

  • Lack of experience
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Teenage passengers
  • Night driving
  • Failure to wear seatbelts
  • Speeding
  • Distracted driving
  • DUI

Challenges Faced by Older Drivers

Our population is aging, and this is causing a significant increase in the number of older drivers on the road. According to the Federal Highway Administration, America has over 32 million licensed drivers 70 and older. There were over 9102 deaths caused by accidents involving drivers 65 and older during a recent year.

Age affects everyone differently, but drivers will inevitably face physical challenges as they grow older, and this can seriously impact their ability to drive safely. Many states have special provisions for drivers over 70, such as requiring them to renew their license in person and mandating more frequent written and vision tests for seniors.

Challenges that are often encountered by older drivers include:

  • Diminished hearing impairs the driver’s ability to hear honking horns, sirens, railroad crossing signals, and other important warning signs.
  • Reduced mobility, including loss of motor control and stiff muscles and joints, makes it more difficult to operate a motor vehicle.
  • Mental processing issues and other age-related cognitive conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease diminish a driver’s ability to process information and make timely decisions when performing necessary functions like turns, lane changes, and safely responding to traffic signals.
  • Reflexes. Even a short delay in responding to hazards and constantly changing road conditions may have a tragic effect on an older driver.
  • Impaired vision limits a driver’s ability to read traffic signs, perceive the distance between objects, estimate the speed of other vehicles, and recognize pedestrians and hazards along the roadway.
  • Medications that are frequently prescribed to seniors may render them less alert and impair their judgment.

Have You Suffered Catastrophic Injuries in a Columbus, GA Car Accident?

The experienced Columbus car accident lawyers at Butler Prather LLP will file a claim or lawsuit to help you get the resources you need to cover the cost of your medical bills and other expenses, such as reduced earning capacity, in-home nursing care, or wheelchair ramps for your residence.

Butler Prather LLP has won landmark cases for clients in over 30 states. Our Georgia injury attorneys have won over a billion dollars in settlements and verdicts, including nine verdicts that exceed $100 million and over 60 verdicts and settlements of over $10 million.

Call (706) 322-1990 to learn more today.

Posted in: Car Accidents

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