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Massachusetts Older Drivers Staying Home Reduces Risks of Car Accidents in Boston This Holiday Season

Now that we are in the height of holiday travel season, it is probably fair to say that motorists have more fear of having an encounter with a drunk, aggressive or distracted driver. The drivers who probably should fear a car accident in Newton, New Bedford, Cambridge or throughout Boston the most are elderly drivers who don’t react as quickly or see as well to avoid a collision.
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Massachusetts personal injury attorneys understand how important it is to keep loved ones close during the holidays. Sometimes we notice a decline in an elder parent so it is important to monitor his or her driving skills and talk about ways to stay safe this time of year. Keeping older adults off roadways as much as possible this time of year is an important step in keeping them safe throughout the holiday season.

Recent studies are showing that elders are involved in fewer accidents compared to previous years even though there is an increase in registered drivers over the age of 70.

SouthCoastToday.com reports elders feel like they get the brunt of the blame when they driver more cautiously than a teenager or other risk-taking motorists. A fatality report provided by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) indicated that drivers over age 70 have improved the rate of accident involvement more than young adults or middle-aged drivers. In addition, a driver over the age of 74 is less likely to kill other vehicle occupants, motorcyclists, bicyclists or pedestrians than a licensed driver between the ages of 30 and 59.

In 2008, the Federal Highway Administration reported 22 million licensed drivers over the age of 69 on U.S roadways. In 1997, there were fewer than 18 million drivers in this age group. According to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation there are currently 316,548 senior drivers between 70-79 years-old, 171,242 drivers between 80-90 years-old and over 24,500 drivers over 90 years old. People are not only living longer but they are driving longer despite efforts to keep them off roadways.

State lawmakers have considered restricting elder drivers or requiring them to take tests. Within the last 12 months, there have been more than 10,000 seniors over age 70 involved in a Massachusetts car accident. To date, state officials only require vision tests for drivers 75 and older every 5 years. One problem that haunts elder drivers is difficulty seeing, especially at night. With the advancement and success of laser eye surgery local police officials don’t see elderly drivers as a problem worth raising too much concern over. Teens and young drivers are just as big of a problem.

The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles does not limit drivers based on age alone. Instead, Massachusetts is a self-reporting state and base licensing standards on a driver’s functional ability. Self-reporting means each driver (or someone who takes note) is responsible for reporting personal medical conditions or age-related issues that can affect driving ability. According to IIHS, 28 states throughout the country place standards on senior drivers which may include vision tests, driving tests or shorter renewal periods.

Keep your elderly loved one safe this holiday season by offering to take them shopping or driving them to run weekly errands.

If you or your elderly loved one has been involved in a car accident in Middlesex, Bristol, Norfolk, Suffolk or Essex Counties, contact the personal injury lawyers at the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman, LLC for a free consultation to discuss your claim. Call 1-877-617-5333.

Additional Resources:
More elderly drivers don’t necessarily mean more problems, by Brian Fraga, SouthCoastToday.com.

More Blog Entries:
Nighttime Driving Reduces Visibility and Increases Risks of Car Accidents in Massachusetts, Boston Personal Injury Attorney Blog, November 15, 2011.

82-Year-Old Faces Stiff Sentences after Fatal Newton Car Accident, Boston Personal Injury Attorney Blog, September 20, 2011.