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Issues Related to Older Drivers

Seniors have lower fatal crash rates per 100,000 licensed drivers when compared with teenage drivers and slightly higher rates than drivers of other age groups. One reason is that seniors drive fewer miles and take shorter trips than other drivers. Even this statistic, alone, can be misleading. When their crashes are adjusted to reflect the number of miles traveled, seniors’ crash rates go up with their increased exposure. This is important to law enforcement officials because the empirical data are based on the historical likeliness that seniors were driving fewer miles as they aged. Analysts predict that more senior drivers will drive more miles in the future. The resulting projections are daunting: the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety predicts that the number of senior citizens involved in reported car crashes will increase by 178 percent between 1999 and 2030. During the same period, seniors’ involvement in fatal crashes is projected to increase by 155 percent.

    Fatality rates reveal that older drivers are at increased risk of dying, whether the rate is based on the number of licensed drivers (shown in Figure A) or on the total vehicle miles traveled (shown in Figure B).
 Figure A. Fatality Rate per Thousand Licensed Drivers by Age Group    
 Figure B. Fatality Rate per 100 Million Vehicle Miles Traveled by Age Group    
    Drivers older than 60 years of age show increasing fatality rates, indicating that older drivers suffer more serious injuries in crashes than do younger drivers.
     Source NHTSA

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