Seniors Driving Safely

by Lois Etienne on October 12, 2012

in Alzheimer's and Dementia,Legal,Lifestyle,Senior Health and Safety

Are you worried about your loved one’s driving safety? Statistics show older drivers are actually the safest on the road.

A report from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety may help give you some peace of mind. In 2009, the latest year for which data is available, motor vehicle crashes account for less than 1% of fatalities among people 70 and older; heart disease and cancer are the leading causes of death. People ages 70+ are less likely to be licensed to drive compared with younger people, and drivers 70+ also drive fewer miles. However, older drivers are keeping their licenses longer and driving more miles than in the past.

Per mile traveled, fatal crash rates increase noticeably starting at age 70-74 and are highest among drivers 85 and older. Though, the increased fatal crash risk among older drivers is largely due to their increased susceptibility to injury, particularly chest injuries, and medical complications, rather than an increased tendency to get into crashes.

A total of 4,139 people ages 70 and older died in motor vehicle crashes in 2010, or 14.9% of the population. Compare that to 1975 when 3,775 seniors or 25.9% of the population died. In 2010, of the motor vehicle crash deaths involving people 70+, 78% were passenger vehicle occupants and 15% were pedestrians. Although few older adults are killed while riding motorcycles, this number has risen. Almost six times as many motorcyclists 70+ were killed in 2010 than in 1997…okay, guys, this stat’s for YOU! Do you really want to go out this way?

A lot of the times seniors know they’re at that time they shouldn’t be driving anymore, but they don’t know how to start that conversation or they don’t feel like they have a choice. Driving is a privilege that shouldn’t be taken for granted at any age. Older adults can be just as safe on the roadways as when they were younger, but adjustments are sometimes needed to account for age-related physical and cognitive changes. Stay tuned…

 

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