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Senior drivers may cause fewer car accidents that some may think

Some in New Jersey may believe that any senior driver is a threat to the safety of others. This may be a misconception, because -- without comparing the numbers of car accidents caused by drivers of different ages -- several facts invalidate that perception. Apart from some exceptions, seniors diligently wear their seat belts and observe speed limits. They avoid driving while impaired, driving after dark and in bad weather, and they mostly stay away from high traffic areas and busy intersections.

Family members of older drivers may become concerned for the safety of their loved ones and other road users. However, driving may be the only bit of independence that person has left, and getting him or her to give that up is never easy. With old age comes deteriorating cognitive functioning, reduced hearing and sight, and the dangerous side effects of medication. It may help to look for signs that they struggle navigating on familiar roads. They may fail to stop at stop signs or obey other road signs; they may not be able to see them anymore.

Other signs of danger may be forgetfulness, disorientation or confusion along with dizziness that causes falling or tripping. General fatigue, shortness of breath and trouble hearing, swallowing, walking and following instructions can be further indications that a driver's license conversion may be in order. Family members who care for their elders can make this transition easier by taking them on regular outings and trips to their favorite stores without waiting for them to ask. Having to ask may be the most difficult part of accepting old-age.

Unfortunately, despite the fact that most older people want to continue driving for as long as possible, they can be held responsible if their negligence causes car accidents. Just like in any other crash, injured victims are entitled to pursue recovery of damages. They can file personal injury lawsuits in a New Jersey civil court, and upon establishing negligence, the court will determine the driver's percentage of fault in the accident before entering a monetary judgment.

Source: amfam.com, "Safer Driving for Seniors", Accessed on Aug. 23, 2017

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