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Car accident causes may have to do with age and brain function

A new government study may interest Wisconsin drivers. When it comes to a car accident involving accidental acceleration, women seem to be involved more often than men. Almost two-thirds of drivers who meant to hit the brake and instead hit the gas were female. However, the opposite happens to be true when viewing overall car accident statistics. In that case, 60 percent of drivers involved in car accidents happen to be male.

The study also found that gas pedal accidents occurred more often in drivers over the age of 76 or much younger drivers, under 20 years of age. Statistics involving one state's database of 2,400 gas pedal accidents, viewed in conjunction with new reports of another 900 incidents, showed that accidents in the database were about equally likely to involve drivers ranging in these same age groups, but 40 percent of accidents in the 900 news reports involved senior citizen drivers. This totals over four times the number in which young drivers were involved.

One possible explanation for these statistics is that the area of the brain that has to deal with driving is said to be less functional in younger and much older drivers. The area of the brain that deals with executive functioning develops last and typically does not reach maturity until the person is an adult. Additionally, elderly drivers given tests that involved executive functioning tended to perform poorly in those areas.

These statistics may explain why certain age groups are more likely to be involved in a car accident, but does not address other factors on the road that could lead to a collision. Wisconsin drivers may want to take this information to heart or at least carefully watch their teenage children or elderly relatives when they get behind the wheel of a car. Their lives and the safety of others might depend upon it.

Source: Walworth County Today, "Study: More female drivers mistakenly hit gas pedal," Joan Lowy, April 13, 2012

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