Study: increase in older drivers does not increase incidence of accidents

Several years ago, safety experts expressed concern that the U.S. would see a significant rise in the number of serious car accidents as baby boomers aged. The concern is easy to understand: each day, about 10,000 members of the baby boomer generation turn 65. By 2050, experts estimate that there will be approximately 64 million people in the U.S. over the age of 70. That means about 16 percent of our country's population will be considered elderly.

According to a recent study by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, concerns about how the continued aging of the U.S. population would affect the incidence of car accidents appear to be unfounded. Indeed, the IIHS discovered that drivers who are currently over the age of 70 are far less likely to be in crashes than in previous years. In addition, the study found that they were less likely to suffer significant injuries if they were in a crash. One of the big reasons appears to be that elderly drivers are in much better physical condition today than in previous generations.

The IIHS study examined crash statistics for middle aged drivers – defined as those between 35 and 54 years of age – and older drivers. The study found that, between 1997 and 2012, the number of fatal accidents in the U.S. dropped by 30 percent for middle aged drivers and approximately 42 percent for older drivers. Surprisingly, the group that saw the largest decline in accident rate was drivers over the age of 80.

Also surprising was the fact that crash rates declined despite an increase in the number of miles traveled by older drivers. The authors of the study suggest that this may indicate that, as drivers age, they continue to feel comfortable with the physical and mental tasks associated with driving. This means that they continue to get out of the house as much as possible. In many cases, older adults begin to decrease their time behind the wheel as they begin to experience a decline in their driving skills.

It remains to be seen whether the trends noted by the IIHS will continue in the coming decades. Nevertheless, it appears that older drivers may not pose as much of a threat as previously believed.

It is important for those who have been injured in car accidents to understand their rights. Schedule a consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney to learn more.