Aging drivers may result in more car accidents in Alabama

As drivers in the baby boomer generation age, Alabama and other states across the nation face many questions and concerns related to a variety of societal matters. Costs and quality issues associated with nursing home care, medical care and social security are all hot button issues when looking at the baby boomer population. The growing number of elderly drivers and the problems they pose to public safety and increases in accidents are also an important consideration.

While some states have enacted driving rules and policies unique to drivers over the age of 65, many states, including Alabama, currently have no restrictions on elderly drivers. While it's not a foregone conclusion that an elderly driver will cause a car accident, there are several factors associated with aging that tend to impair an individual's ability to process information and respond quickly.

According to researchers, a driver who is 65-years-old perceives about 30 percent less information than a younger driver. In an effort to combat the ill-effects aging appears to have on a driver's ability to perceive and therefore process information, medical researchers are exploring ways to essentially train the brain.

Researchers at the University of Alabama have already conducted tests in which the driving actions and behaviors of subjects are monitored by sensors and cameras while driving. Through the studies, researchers have already been able to determine that effective methods exist that help aid older drivers in maintaining or improving their ability to perceive and process information necessary to drive safely.

While this research is promising, as the number of elderly drivers increases, so too will the number of car accidents in which they are involved. Because of their diminished physical state, elderly drivers are more liable to suffer serious injury and even death when involved in a car accident.

Source: NBC News, "Brain training may slow declines in driving skills of the elderly," Dan Carney, Sept. 24, 2012

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