Older Adults Who Fall More Often Seem More Likely to Cause Car Crashes Than Those Who Fall Less Frequently, Study Finds
Research has found that adults who are 70-years-old or older are more likely to be involved in car collisions than younger drivers per mile driven. And older drivers are more likely to sustain serious injuries from a crash. This is cause for concern. Therefore it’s important to find out what increases their risks of causing car crashes. That way, researchers can better identify ways to keep drivers safe and prevent future collisions.
Some information has suggested that older adults who fall may also be more likely to be involved in car crashes. Roughly a third of older adults who live in communities—rather than in assisted living facilities or nursing homes— fall each year. And more than half of those adults fall more than once a year.
New Research in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society
Carrie Huisingh MPH, of the University of Alabama in Birmingham, and colleagues, investigated whether adults aged 70 years and older who have frequent falls have higher risks of crash involvement. They asked more than 2,000 licensed drivers aged 70 and older if they had fallen two or more times in the last year – and found that older adults who reported falling two or more times in the previous year were 53% more likely to be in a car crash, and more than twice as likely be in a car crash in which they were at fault during that year.
“Falling two or more times in the previous year may be associated with at-fault (car-crash) involvement,” the authors conclude in the January issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
“These results suggest that clinicians should be encouraged to educate people who report frequent falling about driving safety,” Ms. Huisingh and co-authors recommend.
A history of frequent falling can be used to identify individuals who are at increased risk of crash involvement. Public health resources can be allocated and prevention programs can be developed to target individuals at risk of (car crash) involvement. In addition, interventions need to be developed to improve balance and reduce the risk of falling in older adults, thereby potentially also reducing the risk of crash involvement, the researchers agree.
This summary is from the full report titled, Frequent Falling and Motor Vehicle Collision Involvement of Older Drivers. It is in the January 2014 issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society (JAGS). The report is authored by Carrie Huisingh MPH1,2, Gerald McGwin Jr PhD1,2,3, Katherine A. Orman BS2, Cynthia Owsley PhD.