DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) — In the past week, the Wiregrass has had two crashes involving elderly drivers, one ending in a fatality Wednesday evening.
According to AAA, seniors are safe drivers because they often reduce the risk of injury by wearing safety belts, observing speed limits, and not drinking and driving. However, they are more likely to suffer severe injuries when things do go wrong.
In 2017, eight percent of all fatal crashes were caused by drivers 19 or under, and 28 percent were caused by drivers under 25.
“When you look at the statistics, it’s lower for the elderly than the middle age,” said Michael Simmons, Dothan State Trooper Post Commander. “The worst is actually 25-34. I mean I’m sure some of it is because there are less elderly people on the road versus there are more younger drivers on the road.”
Senior citizens are more likely to be injured or killed in traffic crashes due to age-related vulnerabilities, such as more fragile bones. In fact, the fatality rate for elderly drivers is seven times higher than those from ages 25 to 64.
“You have some people that are elderly that drive just as good as when they were younger,” Simmons said. “If they don’t feel like they can drive safely then they need to get another route and get somebody else to take them versus them driving themselves.”
Most older drivers are also able to recognize and avoid situations where something may put them at risk.
“Some things elderly should look at to help them be safer is they can plan their route, drive during the day versus night, avoid rush hour traffic, drive when there are vehicles on the road,” Simmons said. “They can also take a passenger with them to have basically a second set of eyes while they’re driving.”
Seniors have the highest crash death rate per mile driven, with the exception of teen drivers, even though they drive less than younger people.