Do Older Drivers Crash More Often?
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Do Older Drivers Crash More Often?

Thursday, April 13, 2017By Richard Alexander

There is a common idea in our society that older drivers crash more often than their younger counterparts. Is this true? Do America's elder drivers, typically the most experienced of us all, really have more car accidents than younger drivers?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that in 2013, over 5,500 drivers aged 65 and older were killed in car wrecks; 222,000 were injured in traffic accidents.

However, to answer the question of whether older drivers really are involved in more crashes, we need to consider not sheer numbers of crashes but rather crash rates. Crash rates relate the number of crashes a certain group of drivers has relative to its percentage of the population.

Nationwide, older drivers comprised 14 percent of the population. However, they constituted a whopping 17 percent of traffic deaths. Their injury rate was significantly less than you might expect, at 10 percent. Interestingly, when the numbers of traffic deaths are adjusted to account not only for age but also for the number of drivers, their crash rate is quite low. In 2013, both males and females in this group had the lowest fatal crash rate of any age group.

The statistics relating to older driver fatal crashes are different than those for younger drivers:

  • 75 percent of their fatal crashes happened during the day, as opposed to 49 percent of all drivers.
  • 69 percent of their fatal crashes occurred on weekdays, as opposed to 58 percent for all drivers.
  • 65 percent of older driver fatal crashes involved other vehicles, as compared to 42 percent for all drivers.

Elderly drivers fare better in California than they do nationwide. About 13 percent of California's population is 65 and older. However, drivers in this age group make up only 10 percent of traffic fatalities in the state.

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