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Accident rates among older drivers

Arizona is one of the country's most popular retirement destinations, and elderly drivers are a familiar sight on the state's roads. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals that the chances of being involved in a fatal motor vehicle accident begin to increase sharply after a driver attains the age of 70, and the number of senior citizens behind the wheel increased by 34 percent between 1999 and 2012.

While older drivers may be more likely to die in motor vehicle accidents on a per-mile traveled basis, the data indicates that this is due to existing health conditions or general frailty rather than poor driving skills. According to the CDC, older drivers often behave far more responsibly behind the wheel, but injuries that younger drivers would be expected to survive often prove fatal to those in their golden years. However, declining eyesight and reduced cognitive abilities are sometimes cited as the reason for accidents involving older drivers.

The CDC data indicates that older drivers most likely are wearing seat belts, and they are less likely to drive at night or when road conditions are treacherous. Drinking and driving is also far less common among senior citizens. According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Transportation, older drivers involved in fatal accidents in 2012 were found to have a blood alcohol level of .08 percent or higher only 7 percent of the time. Younger drivers killed in traffic accidents were found to be over the limit 24 percent of the time.

While older individuals often receive a fixed income that is unlikely to be affected by an automobile accident, they may require more medical attention and suffer more discomfort following a crash. When traffic accidents are caused by negligent behavior of another driver, a personal injury attorney may pursue civil remedies on behalf of those who suffer injury, loss or damage. If the accident victim is a senior citizen, an attorney may pay particular attention to the costs of medical treatment and long-term physical therapy.

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