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According to a recent study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, employees ages 55 or older whose jobs include driving are more likely than their younger co-workers to die in traffic accidents. Weaker cognition skills and greater vulnerability to injury are prime factors for this finding.

The study, conducted by researchers at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health which is part of the CDC, found that older workers have a 50 percent higher risk of dying in a crash than younger employees ages 18 to 54. Furthermore, people who are 65 and older are three times more likely to die in highway accidents.

By comparison, fatality rates for people of various ages in the general population related to motor vehicle accidents only start to rise markedly at age 75. The patterns suggest the need for additional measures to address road safety risks of older workers, the study says.

Between 2003 and 2010, more than 11,500 workers ages 18 and over were killed while driving as part of their job. Of those killed, 27 percent were 55 and older.

Older people who work in transportation and warehousing are the most susceptible to driving deaths. They account for a third of all the fatalities.

Most deaths occurred due to collisions between vehicles. Highway crashes are the biggest cause of workplace deaths in the United States.

Unfortunately, this issue may increase as many Americans continue to work later in life. People age 55 and beyond are expected to make up 25 percent of the workforce by 2020. This is more than twice the 12 percent figure that existed in 1990.

Employers may be able to help address cognitive changes linked to normal aging through regular health screenings and injury prevention and wellness programs, the researchers says.

Preventing Fatal Accidents

To reduce workplace accidents in this age group, the CDC recommends that companies require less nighttime driving, provide options that offer breaks from driving, reorganize routes and offer driver training review courses. The study also suggests allowing drivers to use their best judgment to stop driving or reschedule travel in cases of bad weather, darkness or fatigue.

Employers can also help protect older drivers by focusing on the most dangerous risks behind the wheel. Ongoing education about making left turns, driving at night and medications that may contribute to drowsiness could help keep these workers safe.

Need Legal Help?

If you are injured on the job, you may be entitled to coverage for your lost wages and medical expenses. If you or a loved one needs workers’ compensation in South Carolina, our South Carolina personal injury attorneys at Joye Law Firm may be able to help. Call 888-594-7741 or use our online form so our attorneys can offer you advice about your rights.

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About the Author

Ken Harrell joined Joye Law Firm in 1994, and has been the managing partner since 2006. With 30 years of experience, he protects the rights of injured South Carolinians, including cases involving workers’ compensation, car accidents, and defective products. Ken also leads the firm’s referral practice, helping to ensure that our clients receive the best possible representation. He is a past president of South Carolina Injured Workers’ Advocates, and has served as the co-chairman of this organization’s legislative affairs committee for 12 years.

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