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Who is more dangerous on the roads: teens or the elderly?

In Alabama and across the United States, the roads have inherent risks that drivers, passengers, bicyclists and pedestrians should take steps to avoid. Unfortunately, there are factors that will be in place no matter what a person does to try and stay safe. There is a reasonable perception that certain segments of the population pose a greater risk than others to having an auto accident that will cause injuries and death. Specifically, these are teen drivers and elderly drivers.

Teen driving risks are linked to inexperience and recklessness

When parents allow their teens to take the roads, they do so with the understanding that their inexperience and propensity to making mistakes can cause risk to themselves and others. Statistically, the second most frequent way in which teens lose their lives is in an auto accident. In 2018 alone, there were nearly 2,500 road fatalities for those between 13 and 19. That comes to approximately seven per day.

When teens first get their driver license, they are generally between 16 and 19-years-old. Drivers in that age range have triple the chance of drivers 20 and older of being in an accident based on the number of miles they drive. This is generally attributed to their lack of experience as their chance of an accident is at its highest level in the first few months after they have been licensed. Nighttime is when they are most prone to being in a crash.

Other factors that are mentioned as sparking teen crashes are being in the vehicle with other teens; failure to wear a seatbelt; driving while distracted, driving whole drowsy, behaving recklessly; and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Parents are encouraged to help their teens prepare for the road by accompanying them for up to the first 50 hours of their driving lives and guiding them with proper safety tactics.

Keeping an eye on their teens, watching how they behave and act on the road can spot potential problems and nip them in the bud. Having rules as to when they can drive, dispensing appropriate punishments and ensuring that law and common sense are followed can go a long way to improve safety for everyone.

Elderly drivers are also dangerous, but in different ways

Teens tend to believe they are invincible or that their sudden freedom to drive means they are adults with the ability to handle the responsibilities therein. Elderly people 65 and older will have the experience that teens do not and the understanding of the potential dangers on the road.

A challenge is that their reflexes are inevitably diminished through age and they might not have the same ability to respond to unforeseen circumstances as quickly. In addition, as they grow older, there could be a tendency to miss stop signals and signs, fail to yield, drive too slowly, be unable to see or hear as well, have problems in inclement weather and more.

With more individuals staying relatively healthy into their later years and living longer, there are more people 65 and above on the road. In 2018, more than 45 million such drivers were licensed. That is a rise of 60% from 2000. 2018 saw nearly 7,700 fatalities of elderly people in traffic accidents. More than a quarter-million received treatment for injuries. This overwhelms the number of teens who are injured or killed in accidents.

Safety is key regardless of drivers’ age

Other factors should be considered when determining which demographic is safer or riskier such as how many teens are on the road vs. how many elderly people are on the road. Though the causes of auto accidents involving teens and the elderly differ, there are fundamental factors that contribute to their occurrence.

If there is a crash, the behaviors and considerations that spark collisions for elderly and teen drivers could be vital to pursue a legal claim for compensation. The investigation and evidence should be assessed. Consulting with a firm that has experience in auto accidents could help to analyze the situation and take the appropriate steps for a case.