As the baby boomers age, the U.S. population is becoming older. Currently, fourteen percent of Americans are over age 65. Many of these seniors are active and independent, and most drive. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) there are now more than 35 million elderly drivers on the road.
Previous studies have shown that elderly drivers are more likely to sustain serious or fatal car crash injuries than younger drivers—even in minor car crashes. But, a new study has found while elderly drivers are still more likely to die in a car wreck than younger drivers, there has been a significant decline in the car crash fatality rate for older Americans. The recent study was sponsored by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and released on February 20, 2014.
Traffic fatalities have been dropping since 1990. Accident rates are now at the same level as in the late 1940s. Although there has been a significant drop in fatal accident rates among all age groups, the biggest decrease in fatal accident rates was among drivers age 65 and older. Between 1997 and 2012, the fatal crash rate per licensed driver fell 42 percent for drivers over age 65. The greatest change was among drivers age 80 and older—the group that traditionally has the highest fatality rate.
Age Group Decline in Fatality Rate
- 35–54: 30 percent
- 70–74: 32 percent
- 80 and older: 55 percent
IIHS Senior Vice President Anne McCartt attributes the change in fatality rates to safer cars and a healthier senior population. She says safety features like automatic braking, stability control and side air bags are helping people survive accidents that would have been fatal in the past.
No matter what your age, you have rights after a car accident. Learn about those rights in our free guide, Hurt in Georgia: An Injury Attorney's Thoughts on Car Wrecks.