Driving Risks For Elderly Family Members: Holiday Poses Greater Risk

During the each upcoming holiday season, dozens and dozens of families across the US will be traveling so that they can join together to give thanks, exchange gifts and spend time with their extended family.


The sad thing, though, is that during the holidays the number of fatal car accidents in Birmingham will increase significantly.

Family members should make sure that they make it a priority to use this time to discuss the dangers they’re likely going to face on Alabama roadways with their elderly family members.


And this is because there are going to be significantly more elderly folk on the roadway than is typical and we’re also going to be spending more time with them than we normally would during the year. Elderly drivers typically don’t drive nearly as frequently as we do and may have forgotten how to handle the hectic and sometimes even hostile holiday traffic. That isn’t to mention that they very well might be experiencing pains or other issues from aging that can greatly hinder their abilities to climb behind that steering wheel.


Researchers from the Center for Advanced Public Safety, (or CAPS) at the University of Alabama recently concluded that the majority of fatal traffic accidents will happen late at night or during the early morning hours. It sounds odd because you’d think that the majority of accidents would happen when the road is at it’s busiest, but the darkness can play a bigger role than we think in driving difficulty.

Our car accident attorneys understand that the fatality rates for drivers will begin to drastically increase when the drivers in question reach the age of 65. According to a recent study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, drivers that are around the age of 75- to 84-years-old have around the same death rate as inexperienced, teenage drivers who are just getting out on the road. WOW!

Even an experienced driver who turns 85 is at an increased chance of fatality if in an accident. The death rate skyrockets to nearly four times higher than that for teens at 85-years-old.

“You always hear about teenage (driver) risks being so incredibly high, but to me the amazing thing is there are two clusters you really have to focus on”: teens and elderly drivers, says Paul Fischbeck of Carnegie Mellon.

How aging affects the ability to drive, according to USA TODAY:

-The Brain: With an aging driver, reaction times are reduced significantly, confusion grows, distractions have a greater impact and quick decisions become more difficult.

-Eyesight: Aging eyes cause a number of problems that can hinder a driver’s vision, including glaucoma, muscular degeneration and cataracts. These conditions can hinder an elderly driver’s ability to see road signs, road lights and surrounding vehicles.

-The Neck: With age, the neck stiffens, motion becomes more strenuous, looking over one’s shoulder gets to be more difficult and arthritis can make it tough for a driver to grip the wheel.

-Knees, Ankles & Feet: Your joints stiffen, your knee and foot movement becomes harder and more painful and the gas and the brake pedals can get mixed up.

-Medications: Many common medications can cause drowsiness and can put your elderly driver in harm’s way. Make sure elderly drivers know the side effects of their medications.

Before planning your big holiday excursions, make certain that elderly family members are alright and still can drive with ease to help reduce the risks of an accident and help you with peace of mind.


Maybe even consider holding your events and gatherings at a home nearby to accommodate their elderly needs or possibly even volunteer to come over to their house to celebrate the holidays. The safety of our loved ones is very important. Let’s make it a priority to discuss road safety this Holiday season.