As people get out of their teens and become adults, they typically become better drivers. Generally speaking, a 35-year-old is a safer driver than a 16-year-old. Some of it is experience. Some is impulse control.

At a certain point, though, the ability to drive starts to fade. The elderly often struggle to drive safely, and many have to give up their driver’s licenses.

Many factors contribute to this, such as a reduction in physical abilities or mental lapses that can lead to distraction and confusion. However, research has found a surprising reason that elderly drivers get worse: They’re seeing more in the background.

Your ability to focus on things in front of you rather than getting distracted by the background is controlled by the middle temporal (MT) visual area of your brain. It allows you to ignore what is happening behind your area of focus. It works very well with young drivers, and they can focus on the most important factors, like pedestrians and other traffic.

As people grow older, the MT does not do its job as well as it used to. This means that elderly individuals are actually better at seeing the different things that are moving in the background. Saying it’s better makes it sound like a positive, but it actually makes driving harder because it creates a chaotic, confusing visual picture. This can lead to mistakes while driving.

Have you suffered injuries in a car accident with an elderly driver? If so, be sure you know how to seek financial compensation. An attorney can provide valuable guidance.