Talking to older motorists about driving safety can help reduce risks of Chicago car accidents

As the winter driving season rapidly approaches, it’s a good time to reassess the driving ability of parents and older adults as we work to reduce the chances an aging loved one is involved in a Chicago car accident.

The USA Today reports on the growing challenge for an increasing number of Baby Boomers, who want to both keep a parent safe and respect his or her freedom and independence.Our Chicago injury lawyers have reported here before on the risk faced by older drivers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports the number of aging drivers has increased more than 20 percent in the last decade to more than 30 million.

Typically an older adult who is not in denial about his or her abilities will take steps to mitigate the dangers, often limiting themselves to daytime driving or choosing to walk more frequently. This is no guarantee that they will not be involved in a serious or fatal accident. In 2008, some 183,000 seniors were injured in traffic accidents and 1 in 5 fatal pedestrian accidents involved someone over the age of 65. Most accidents (80 percent) occurred during the day and on weekdays (72 percent).

Meanwhile, safety experts and those who have already dealt with the issue say not waiting until the last minute offers a family the chance to do a better job of planning. Perhaps an aging parent can downsize to a condominium on the bus line, for example, or explore some of the assisted living options that still permit independent living.

It is an issue that is cropping up in living rooms across the country as the Baby Boomers hit retirement age. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that about 1 in 10 Americans were over the age of 70 in 2000. By 2040, that number is expected to increase to 1 in 5.

While older drivers have fewer crashes, they also drive less. Per mile traveled, crash rates increase at age 70 and rise significantly after age 80.

Safety advocates agree that parents and children should begin to have the conversation years or even decades before it counts. When a parent begins to talk about retirement, a child may bring up the conversation. In such a non-threatening time and place, both parent and child can talk about the issues, the warning signs and what to do when that time arises.

The federal government offers a variety of safety resources for older Illinois drivers, including:

-How to understand and influence older drivers.

-Adapting motor vehicles to older drivers.

-Driving safely while aging gracefully.

-Talking with older drivers.

-Screening and evaluation.

-Medications and older drivers.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, the Chicago car crash attorneys at Abels & Annes offer free case evaluations to discuss your rights. Call (312) 475-9596 to speak directly to a lawyer.

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