With people living longer, there are more senior citizens driving on Dallas and Fort Worth roads. Like everyone, they need to drive to go to the doctor, the grocery store, the mall, and many other places in their day-to-day life. Parking lots can pose a challenge for seniors due to all the activity in such a small space, the unique traffic patterns in different lots, and pedestrian and bicyclist traffic.
Sadly, seniors driving in parking lots also pose a serious risk to other drivers. According to a study by Texas A&M University’s Center for Mobility, big box store parking lots are especially dangerous for people over 75 years old because:
- They are 17 times more likely to cause a crash in these parking lots than driving on regular streets.
- There is a 7 percent increase in total crashes and a 3.9 percent increase in people killed or seriously injured in parking lot crashes caused by seniors.
Four Causes of Senior Parking Lot Accidents
Certain factors consistently show up as contributing to these types of accidents. Here are four reasons older people are involved in so many parking lot accidents:
This occurs when a senior mistakenly applies the gas pedal, thinking he is applying the brake. It is caused by a decline in an older driver’s physical and mental abilities.
Driver inattention and distractions.
As people get older, it is harder for them to divide their attention among multiple tasks, and distracted driving can be more of a problem for them. Monitoring a GPS or navigation system, fiddling with music, or even talking while driving can pose more challenging distractions to older drivers than younger ones. Added to this, parking lots have many outside distractions, including lots of vehicles, pedestrians, and bicyclists.
Backing up errors.
As people age, they lose physical abilities that are critical to safe driving, such as strength, coordination, range of motion, flexibility, and reaction time. These all make it more difficult for older drivers to turn to see other drivers when backing up.
Declines in vision.
Older drivers can suffer changes to their vision as they age, like the ability to distinguish details and a narrowing of the field of vision. This can make it more difficult for them to see signs, signals, vehicles, pedestrians, and bicyclists. Seniors can also be more sensitive to low light and glare, making it harder to see at night and in the sun’s bright light. These vision declines can contribute to more problems driving in general and is one of the reasons seniors are more prone to wrecks in parking lots.
Victims of these parking lot accidents can suffer serious injuries—like spinal cord injuries, head injuries, major fractures, and internal bleeding and organ damage. However, they may be entitled to compensation for their medical bills, lost wages, and emotional trauma from the older driver who caused the crash.
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