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Study Claims Seniors Prone to Falling More Likely to Crash

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Posted on September 21, 2016

A recent report by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reveals an unusual connection between senior citizens, declining coordination and car accidents. According to the study – titled “Associations Between Falls and Driving Outcomes in Older Adults” – the more frequently an elderly driver falls, the greater the odds that they will later become involved in a car accident. Cherry Hill car accident lawyers say that the correlation is surprising but explainable.

Researchers posit that injuries suffered in a slip and fall can impair the ability to drive an automobile. As we age, reaction times naturally decline. However, recovery from an arm or leg injury can make it even more difficult to swerve or brake in order to avoid a dangerous condition. Additionally, the report suggests that fear of suffering another fall can lead some senior citizens to become reclusive. A long layoff from the road will not only dull driving skills, but also physically weaken a driver, further impacting their ability to operate an automobile.

Further research is needed to definitively establish why elderly, fall-prone drivers are at an increased risk of suffering a crash but according to the report, the link is strong. Drivers who have recently suffered a fall are up to 40 percent more likely to become injured in an automobile accident. AAA reports that adverse driving events could be lessened with greater fall prevention efforts, such as strength training and a careful review of medications which can promote imbalance.

According to the National Council on Aging, falls result in more hospital admissions for senior citizens than any other cause, leading an older adult to seek emergency room treatment every 13 seconds. Moreover, the NCOA says that every 20 minutes, a fall by an older adult will lead to injuries that later result in death.