Elderly drivers sometimes struggle to wear seat belts for a variety of reasons, yet seat belts are the most effective way to save lives in car accidents.

Why Older Drivers Struggle to Wear Seat Belts

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, seat belts are the most effective way to prevent fatalities and injuries in car accidents. However, even though the law states that it's illegal to travel in a vehicle without a seat belt, some older drivers—those aged 65 or older—still choose not to wear them.

The Relationship Between Baby Boomers and Seat Belts

Because of advanced healthcare methods, people are living longer. This can mean that many older folks keep their drivers licenses and continue to drive well into their 70s and 80s. Many older drivers continue to follow laws closely: in fact, 79% of older drivers wear their seat belts.
However, some older Americans may not wear seat belts for a variety of reasons:

  • Older woman wearing a seatbeltPoor sash fit. Because elderly people often struggle with increased fragility, wearing a strap over the chest and neck area improperly can become uncomfortable and unsafe. Unfortunately, many elderly people experience more traumatic neck and chest injuries after a car accident due to poorly positioned seat belt sashes. Elderly drivers and passengers can also struggle with sash position because of spinal and posture issues. D-rings and height adjustors can help, but older drivers still struggle with correct fit even after adaptors.
  • Poor lap fit. A standard three-point seat belt requires the lap belt portion, which helps to keep the driver safe in the seat in the event of a crash. Unfortunately, older drivers can experience discomfort with the lap belt because of body mass index and fragile hips. As people age, they often gain weight. Sometimes, this weight makes correct and comfortable lap belt fit difficult to achieve. In addition, the pressure from a lap belt could cause bruising on tissues or, in more severe cases, break bones during an accident. Extenders and extra padding can help sometimes, but discomfort is an ongoing issue.
  • Forgetfulness. If someone's cognitive ability isn't what it used to be, it may simply slip a driver's mind to fasten her seatbelt. Without a pre-drive checklist, this behavior may increase over time, and the driver may be unaware she's at risk.

We Are Here for You

If you or your elderly loved one has been injured in a car accident and you have questions about how to recover compensation for injuries, we're here to help. The team at the Andrew Kim Law Firm, PLLC, has the experience and strategy necessary to help you build your accident case. To get started, fill out our online contact form today.


Category: Car Accidents


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