Do Older Drivers Have More Accidents?

According to a recent study of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, drivers 70 years or older, who make up about 10% of the population, are less likely to be involved in auto accidents and less likely to be seriously injured or killed. It is anticipated that by 2050, the number of people in this age group will rise to 16 % of the population in the United States (over fifty percent higher than the most recent amount).

Some have opined this is because automobiles are safer than earlier makes and models. While there are increased numbers of baby boomers who are now seniors and, therefore, an increased number of this group driving on the streets and highways, they actually account for much lower rates of accidents and fatalities. Interestingly, the study revealed the greatest decline was in the group of drivers 80 years and older; this group had nearly a 50% larger decline than either middle age drivers or those between the age of 70 and 74.

Also and somewhat unexpected are statistics revealing those of retirement age are driving more than they did in the past, whether commuting to work (even if part time), shopping, vacation or visiting family and friends.  In the age group of 75 years and older, their annual average miles driven increased 50%. Some commentaries believe this portion of the population take better care of themselves, live a much more healthy life and are leading more productive lifestyles than the same age group 15 years ago.

Clearly, senior drivers are more comfortable driving than their predecessors, and they take extra precautions such as driving less during the rush hours during the day, in inclement weather &/or at night. Nonetheless, eye examinations are a must, and there are classes available that test reaction times (perhaps helpful for many drivers). The next time we see an older driver we should be reminded of and think about emulating their wisdom and good habits, and not focus on any negativity that might otherwise come to mind.

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