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Study Shows Car-Crash Deaths Among Elderly Drivers Have Fallen

Florida is a known place where elderly people go to retire, so it’s no shock to see elderly drivers on almost every road around the Sarasota area. While there is still a concern about elderly drivers who aren’t ready to let go of the wheel, the good news is that the rate of fatal crashes has decreased among drivers older than 70-years-old. Does this mean that your elderly mom, dad, grandpa, or grandma may be able to hang onto their car keys a bit longer?  

While the number of licensed drivers age 70 and older has increased 30 percent between 1997 and 2012, the rate of fatal accidents among this age group fell 42 percent over the same number of years, according to a new study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). For drivers 80 and older, the fatality rate fell 55 percent between 1995 and 2008. While many people feel that car crash deaths have decreased because elderly drivers drive less than younger drivers, the IIHS cites federal data to show the number of miles driven by drivers age 75 and older have increased by 50 percent between 1995 and 2008.

What Do These Numbers Mean?

This study reveals that elderly Americans are driving more, but they are less likely to be killed in car accidents than they were two decades ago. The reason?

  • Cars are safer than they were 20 years ago.
  • Safety features on cars, like side airbags, inflatable seat belts, and collision-avoidance systems, benefit elderly individuals.
  • Older people are healthier nowadays.
  • Elderly drivers have fewer physical and cognitive impairments.
  • Driving more causes older drivers to keep their driving skills sharp.

What’s amazing about this news is that while deadly car crashes have decreased among older drivers, the number of elderly Americans continues to increase. This is because baby boomers are continuing to age and are expected to account for 16 percent of the population by 2050.

While these statistics are encouraging to older drivers and families of elderly drivers in Florida, older drivers are still more likely to die in motor vehicle accidents than drivers in their 50s, 40s, and 30s. Because drivers 80 and older still account for the highest motor vehicle fatality rates, families may still need to intervene and have talks with their loved ones about retiring their car keys for their own safety and the safety of everyone else on the road.

Because there are some senior drivers who shouldn’t be driving anymore, we encourage you to share this article with your friends on Facebook so that others will consider having conversations with their older relatives.