Decline in Hearing Affects Senior Motorist Accident Risks

The elderly population has increased consistently in the U.S. and the number of older adults in the country is expected to be almost 90 million by the year 2050.  With that comes growing concerns of safety concerns with senior driver.  Senior motorists may suffer a number of declines in their vision, hearing and other faculties, and this affects their risk of being involved in an accident. Specifically, decreases in hearing could significantly affect those crash risks.

Those findings come from a new study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety which found an elevated accident risk per mile driven for seniors due to the reduction in their sensory abilities and drop in psychomotor and cognitive abilities.  According to the study, it is important to understand the driving patterns and risk exposure of senior drivers, and also understand how these declining abilities affect the safety of these motorists.

One impairment that many seniors face as they get older is a drop in their hearing abilities.  Hearing impairment can increase crash risks for a senior motorist because they are less likely to hear horns, or other audible cues around them. They may be less likely to see vehicles that are trying to pass them, or even an approaching vehicle.  According to the study, hearing impairment is much more dangerous because it can affect other senses, and further increase a person’s risk of being involved in an accident. For example, hearing impairment can impede a person’s vision and cognitive impairment, further affecting the senior’s ability to drive safely.

Longer trips, for instance, can be challenging for a senior driver. The study found that senior citizens, who had passed the hearing test in both ears, were likely to make fewer trips that were further than 15 miles from their home after the test. Senior motorists who did not suffer from hearing impairment and had passed objective hearing tests in both ears were more likely to drive in dangerous situations, like driving on roads with high-speed traffic, and driving at night.  Seniors who suffered from a hearing impairment were less likely to take these risks, less likely to make trips further away from home, and made fewer rush-hour trips.

The authors of the study stress that testing for hearing impairment be made a part of standard testing before the renewal of driver’s licenses for senior motorists. While the impact of decreasing vision on driving skills is more readily appreciated, hearing tends to be overlooked as a critical component of driving safety. With an increasing population of senior motorists on our roads, it is important that we include hearing tests as an essential part of license renewals. Seniors must also be educated about the risks that such impairment can pose to their driving abilities. Additionally, seniors must be made aware of how their hearing impairment can increase their visual as well as cognitive impairment.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, talk to an experienced car accident attorney to determine your legal rights to a claim for damages. You may be eligible for a claim that includes compensation for medical expenses, lost income and other types of economic and non- economic damages. Call to speak to an attorney, and discuss your case. Initial consultations are free.

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