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Contrary to Earlier Predictions, Older Driver Fatal Crashes Trend Down
Date:1/16/2009

, and an author of the new studies. "No matter how we looked at the fatal crash data for this age group -- whether by miles driven, licensed drivers, or population -- the fatal crash involvement rates for drivers 70 and older declined, and did so at a faster pace than the rates for drivers 35-54 years old."

Declines per licensed driver increased with age so that drivers 80 and older had the most dramatic decreases. If the fatal crash involvement rates for older drivers had mirrored the trend for younger ones from 1997 to 2006, nearly 7,000 additional older drivers would have been in fatal crashes (1,376 drivers 70-74 years old, 1,680 drivers 75-79, and 3,935 drivers 80 and older). Fatal crash rates fell among older drivers for most types of crashes, and the decline was dramatic for crashes at intersections.

"The large drop in intersection crashes is especially important because Institute and other studies have shown that older drivers are overrepresented in multiple-vehicle crashes at intersections," McCartt says. "The data don't allow us to point to any one reason why older drivers' fatal crash experience has improved. Some drivers may have benefited from newer and safer vehicles, and older people generally are more fit than in years past, with better access to health care."

Older drivers are mostly a danger to themselves. Seventy-five percent of people who die in crashes involving older drivers are these drivers themselves or their older passengers.

Older drivers limit car trips: One way some older drivers lower their crash risk is to limit driving. A separate ongoing Institute study is examining how older adults restrict their driving in response to declines in their health, mobility, vision, and memory. Researchers recruited drivers 65 and older in 3 states as they renewed their licenses between November 2006 and December 2007. In the first of several planned interviews, more than 9 in 10 of the
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SOURCE Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
Copyright©2009 PR Newswire.
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