Older drivers

Death Rate For Older Drivers Continues To Decline

In 2009, we wrote about studies showing that the death rate for older drivers (70 and older) were declining even as the older population was growing. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has come out with a new study that shows that trend is increasing.

Thanks to the baby boom of the late 40s and early 50s, the older population continues to grow but, according to the IIHS, older drivers are not only involved in fewer crashes, they are less likely to be killed or injured if they are involved in a crash.

While in the past, it was true that older drivers drove fewer miles than younger drivers, statistics show that, per vehicle miles driven, older drivers have actually increased their annual mileage rate compared to middle aged drivers (age 35-54).

The IIHS lists several reasons for this trend:

  • Older drivers are healthier – Today’s older generation is healthier than past older generations. A combination of diet, exercise, and improved healthcare is allowing baby boomers to not only live longer but to remain fit and healthy late into their golden years.
  • Vehicles are Safer – Modern vehicles are much safer than older model vehicles. Unibody construction and crumple zones in modern cars help protect the vehicle occupants in a crash.
  • Seat Belt Use – Seat belt laws and increased attention to the importance of seat belts has led to increased seat belt usage over the past decade. The combination of seat belts and airbags continues to lower the fatality rate among all ages.
  • Emergency Medical Response – Emergency medical response times and effectiveness has helped to lower the fatality rate for motor vehicle occupants.
  • Self-Regulation – When older drivers do reduce their driving rate, data shows that they are “self-regulating their driving due to impairments.” As an example; older drivers may limit their driving to daytime hours in cases of night blindness.

This study is good news for older drivers and shows the complications involved in arbitrarily setting age limits for driver license renewals among the older population.