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Could safer vehicles allow older drivers more freedom?

When you take away an elderly person's right to drive a car, that individual's freedom will likely be severely curtailed. For many senior citizens, losing their driving privileges marks the end of their being able to live independently.

Age-related changes that make elderly drivers unsafe behind the wheel include failing eyesight, loss of physical capabilities and slower reaction times. However, older drivers tend to be safer because they rarely speed, don't drive after drinking alcohol and wear their seatbelts.

However, when elderly motorists get into accidents, they have higher rates of injury and death. Many older drivers already suffer from medical conditions that can make their bones more fragile. They are not as physically resilient as their younger counterparts when it comes to recovering from injuries in wrecks.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found in 2014 that 236,000 older drivers were injured and another 5,700 died after being involved in highway collisions.

Those statistics likely reflect the fact that more senior citizens than ever before are driving. The federal Department of Transportation Highway Statistics (DTHS) compared figures from 1999 with those from 2015. They showed that there was a 50 percent uptick in the number of seniors who are driving.

With that in mind, how can older drivers remain safe behind the wheel? One way is to treat underlying medical conditions that could contribute to unsafe driving habits. Prescription medications need frequent review to ensure that their side effects don't compromise the drivers' abilities. Older drivers also need to get their eyesight checked annually.

There are additional preventive measures you can take. Senior citizens may want to plan routes that don't involve any freeway driving. They need to avoid distractions like talking on cellphones and listening to loud music while driving.

Is it possible to allow older drivers to remain mobile longer if the senior motorists are driving reliable cars? Driving reliable cars with built-in enhanced safety features, as well as properly maintaining their vehicles, may allow seniors to drive for additional years.

If you are involved in a collision that was caused by a senior driver, you deserve to be compensated for your damages and injuries. A personal injury claim may be the first step in the process.

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