While the little old lady who has frequent fender benders is a common stereotype, research actually shows that seniors tend to be safer drivers than motorists in other age group. However, pre-existing health conditions increase the fatality rate for senior drivers, who may have a difficult time recovering from broken bones and other injuries.
Get the facts about older drivers to help your parents and other senior family members stay safe behind the wheel.
Advantages for older drivers
Statistically, seniors are more likely to avoid dangerous driving behaviors that contribute to crashes. For example, this age group has much lower rates of driving under the influence, speeding and distracted driving incidents.
Drivers ages 60 and older are also much more likely to wear seatbelts than younger drivers and passengers. They tend to avoid risky situations such as driving after dark, in bad weather or on complicated highways.
Potential dangers for senior motorists
According to data from AAA, arthritis affects about 50% of middle-aged Americans and 80% of Americans older than 70. This condition can make it more difficult to perform the twisting and turning movements necessary to operate a motor vehicle.
In addition, 75% of drivers older than 65 take at least one medication, but fewer than 33% of these motorists report awareness of how side effects may impact driving ability.
Research shows that most U.S. drivers stay on the road at least a decade longer than it is safe to do so. Having the difficult conversation with family members about putting their keys away can potentially prevent catastrophic auto accident injury.