Older drivers may pose a danger on the roads, statistics show

Elderly drivers may suffer from physical or cognitive conditions that reduce their ability to drive safely. They may cause accidents as a result.

When people have many years of experience doing an activity, they usually become quite proficient. This is also the case when it comes to driving. Decades of experience behind the wheel can result in a safer, more conscientious driver. However, there comes a time for most residents of Knoxville and elsewhere when it may no longer be as safe to drive as it was in the past. According to Consumer Reports, drivers over the age of 80 may be six times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than drivers who are younger.

Statistics provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention support this statement. On a daily basis, about 500 senior citizens across the country are injured and 15 more are killed in car accidents.

Health conditions often contribute to the risk

Why are these drivers with so many years of experience getting into more car accidents? Numerous age-related conditions are often to blame, points out NIH Senior Health. These may include the following:

• Failing vision or hearing, which may prevent a senior driver from hearing emergency vehicles or recognizing hazards

• Reduced cognitive ability, such as the early onset of dementia or Alzheimer's disease

• Physical complications, including arthritis, heart conditions, injuries or illnesses

• Confusion with newer roads, modern vehicles and changing traffic laws

• Medications that cause drowsiness or may otherwise affect the ability to drive

The problem is enough of a concern that some states have enacted legislation to address senior citizens' licensing requirements and reduce the risk of age-related motor vehicle collisions. For example, a driver over a certain age may need to renew his or her license in person or to pass a vision or health screening. However, no special driver's license laws regarding senior citizens are currently in place in Tennessee, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Wrong-way crash involving elderly driver

A recent accident that occurred on Monteagle Mountain showed the tragic consequences of older drivers who may be unsafe. The Times Free Press reported that an 82-year-old man was driving the wrong way on Interstate 24 in December when he struck a minivan head-on and was subsequently hit by a tractor-trailer. The older driver was killed, and four people in the minivan were injured.

It may be difficult to give up the independence that comes with being able to drive. However, it is much worse if the consequences involve getting into a crash. If you are injured by an older driver, you have the right to seek compensation. You may wish to speak with an experienced Tennessee personal injury attorney.