The youngest drivers are responsible for the most car crashes per mile driven. Accident rates drop steadily as drivers age, reaching a low point for drivers in their 60s. In fact, drivers between the ages of 20 and 24 suffer roughly four times as many crashes as drivers between 60 and 69. At age 70, the numbers take a sharp turn for the worse. Given the age demographics of the United States, the rise in accidents caused by drivers over a certain age has serious implications for road safety.
In 2013, 36.8 million licensed drivers were in the senior age group. That was 27 percent more senior drivers than were on the roads in 2004. The U.S. Census Bureau predicts that the population of 65-and-older Americans will double from 2012 to 2050. Barring major changes in the way we get around in this country, that will mean a massive increase in the number of older drivers.
In addition to changing crash rates, the types of crashes caused by older drivers is a concern. Older drivers cause more fatalities per driver per mile. Drivers over the age of 80 caused the most deaths in traffic accidents of any age group in 2008-2009 according to the AAA Foundations for traffic Safety. Fatalities and injuries among older drivers are both on the rise, according to recent data.
Given the relatively poor state of public transportation throughout the United States, the ability to drive is not something most people can afford to give up. Most seniors see the loss of their license as a loss of independence. It is important to protect the rights of older drivers who can still operate their vehicles safely. At the same time, it is important to take steps to ensure that drivers maintain the skills and knowledge necessary to drive safely for as long as they maintain a license.
Source: Eastern Arizona Courier, “Senior drivers causing more crashes,” by Shelby Edward, 2 December 2015