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Elderly drivers

The AIB analysed 32 accidents involving elderly drivers
You can find an english summary in the report on page 95:
A very brief summary can be seen below:
Three types of accidents
The analysis has, among other things, shown that the accidents can be divided into 3 main types:
  • Accidents with lost or impaired consciousness
  • Accidents due to drivers not giving way
  • Accidents in which the elderly had no part

Lost or impaired consciousness by the elderly drivers
In scarcely 1/3 of the 32 accidents, it was a crucial element in the course of the accident that the elderly driver felt unwell or was otherwise so physically or mentally deteriorated that he or she were completely unaware of the situation or was manoeuvring the vehicle in a confused state of mind.

Accidents due to drivers not giving way 
In at least 1/3 of the accidents, the elderly drivers were in a situation where they had duty to give way to other vehicles. With one exception these accidents took place at intersections.

It appears in general that this type of accident typically occurs because the elderly miss important information in the traffic situation – i.e. overlook other road users or a red light for which they should stop.

The reason for overlooking the opposite party could be information overload, and that the simultaneous capacity, i.e. the ability to divide attention and process several informations at the same time, is reduced. The simultaneous capacity is reduced with age. Simultaneous capacity is also reduced by such factors as fatigue and stress.
In the case of the opposite parties who contributed to the accidents, exceeding the speed limit was the most common accident factor. 5 of the 12 give way accidents could have been avoided if the opposite party had not exceeded the speed limit. In one further accident the personal injuries would have been less serious if the opposite party had not driven too fast.
In about half of the give way accidents the road design conditions contributed to their occurrence. Restricted view contributed to 3 of the accidents.
Accidents in which the elderly had no part
In almost 1/3 of the accidents the elderly drivers did not contribute to the accident. In these cases they had no reasonable chance to avoid the accident, which would neither have been the case for a younger driver. 2/3 of the accidents were head-on collisions, where the opposite party drove into the elderly driver’s lane.
The elderly drivers injuries
Elderly people are at greater risk of serious injuries as the result of a given collision force, and they also run a greater risk of more serious consequences for a given injury than younger people. The greater risk of serious injury in the elderly is due to a weaker physique, with more fragile bones, muscles and joints.
This was confirmed by the accidents investigated. There is a clear predominance in the proportion of fatalities and severely injured among the elderly compared to the other parties.
Analyses of the accidents also revealed that a contributory factor to the higher proportion of injuries to the elderly was that relative to the opposite parties they were generally driving older vehicles with lower safety standards, both regarding deformation capability, i.e. the capability of the vehicle to manage the collision forces, and regarding safety equipment.
Elderly man in car