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The surprising reason older adults are at greater risk during a crash

The suggestion that older adults are at elevated risk of a car crash isn’t a surprising one. People readily acknowledge that many motorists experience a decline in driving ability as they age. Even when an older driver is very safety-aware and makes the right decisions in traffic, they may be at elevated risk of a poor outcome following a crash.

Health issues related to advanced age, such as a reduction in bone density, can affect the severity of someone’s crash injuries. Older adults may also take longer to heal from injuries when compared with those in early stages of life.

Still, there is a completely different factor to blame for many collisions involving older adults that prove fatal. The actual underlying cause of fatal collisions is far from what people expect.

Vintage retirement vehicles aren’t up to modern standards

Many older adults have a legacy vehicle that they may have a sense of attachment to, so they plan to bring the vehicle out of its retirement once they start theirs. Maybe someone has always maintained their first vehicle or they inherited their parents’ old car years ago. Older adults may enjoy cruising in these vintage vehicles, but they may be at greater risk of a crash and at elevated risk of worse injury when a crash occurs.

Older vehicles often do not have electronic stability control, which increases the chances of a fatal crash. A lack of side airbags also has a strong association with increased traffic fatalities. Overall smaller vehicle sizes and poor performance on certain types of crash tests also make the decision to drive older vehicles a concern for aging adults.

While there is something to be said for the nostalgia that comes from going out for a sunny afternoon ride in a vintage vehicle, older adults need to balance the desire to enjoy their retirement years with the degree of risk inherent in their chosen activities. Saving older vehicles for special events, like vintage vehicle cruises, birthdays and anniversaries, might be a better option than using them as a daily commute vehicle when someone works part-time during retirement or regularly runs errands.

Addressing known risk factors can help older adults reduce their chances of experiencing a debilitating vehicle collision that can result in long-term implications for their health and happiness later in life.