If you have an elderly loved one, you may be asking yourself questions like "Should Grandma still drive?" "Is Grandpa at an increased risk of injury in an Atlanta car accident?" or "How do I know when my parents need to give up driving?" A new study may help you answer those questions. Atlanta auto car crash attorney Shane Smith explains.
There is no question that age-associated diseases, such as Alzheimer's and dementia, can affect driving ability. However, recent research shows that even healthy adults may make more dangerous driving mistakes as they age.
Aging naturally affects one's ability to focus on the road and make quick decisions. In May 2011, an article titled "Chronological Age and Age-Related Cognitive Deficits Are Associated With an Increase in Multiple Types of Driving Errors in Late Life" was published in the journal Neuropsychology. In order to determine the effect that normal aging of the brain has on driving, scientists observed 266 volunteers as they drove on a 12-mile route through city and suburban streets.
The volunteers were age 70 to 88, lived independently, had no signs of dementia, and drove at least once a week. The volunteers also completed a series of cognitive tests and questionnaires about their driving history. An occupational therapist sat in the car with the driver and noted any driving errors, including tailgating, speeding, veering, sudden braking without cause, and failure to check blind spots.
Blind spot errors were the most common mistake, but the authors found that all types of driving errors increase with age, even in drivers with no previous history of car crashes. 17% of the drivers made a critical error that required the observer to hit the brake or grab the steering wheel in order to prevent a potential accident. Drivers aged 70 to 74 had an average of less than one critical error during the 12-mile drive, while drivers aged 85 to 89 had an average of almost four critical errors. Drivers who reported crashing in the previous five years also had a higher rate of critical errors.
But, this does not mean that elderly drivers should give up their licenses. The authors point out that there is a wide range of abilities in drivers of all ages. An 88-year-old can be a safe driver. However, the results of this study may mean that, in the future, older drivers may need to take skills-based tests in order to renew their licenses.
Was your loved one injured or killed in an Atlanta traffic accident? An Atlanta auto car crash attorney can deal with the insurance companies on your behalf and help you get the Georgia insurance compensation you deserve. Don't settle for a low offer. Contact Shane Smith Law at (980) 246-2656 to schedule a free consultation, or request a free copy of Shane Smith's book, 10 Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Georgia Wreck Case.