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Older Drivers on Roads Not as Risky as Once Thought

Casey Woodruff

It is widely accepted by drivers throughout the nation, including those in the Chicago area, that older drivers pose a danger on the roads. While there are certainly instances when actions taken by drivers in this demographic cause serious motor vehicle accidents, recent research indicates it is to a much lesser degree than once thought. The findings are interesting with so many members of the Baby Boomer generation choosing to remain behind the wheel as they age.

The study, which was conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, revealed a couple of things worth noting. The first is that the number of motor vehicle accidents that involve older drivers have declined. Also, the car accidents that do occur are resulting in fewer older people dying.

Between the years of 1997 and 2012 involvement in fatal crashes dropped for all groups of licensed individuals over the age of 69. More specifically, for drivers between the ages of 70 and 74, it decreased by 36 percent. Drivers age 75 through 79 saw a drop of 46 percent. Perhaps most notable is the drop for drivers over the age of 79. The number of licensed drivers in this group that were involved in fatal crashed dropped by 49 percent.

The study’s coauthor points to several reasons for these numbers. The first is that drivers over the age of 69 are generally in better shape than generations past. Next, all vehicles being manufactured are safer than they used to be. Last, when a crash does occur, those involved have better access to health care and emergency services.

Despite the findings of this report, it is still possible that older drivers could engage in negligent behaviors that might lead to an auto accident occurring. In those situations it is possible that a personal injury lawsuit could be filed by those injured in the incident. Successful lawsuits of this nature usually provide injured individuals with financial compensation.

Source: AllGov, “Elderly Drivers Crashing Less…More Fit and Better Health Care,” Noel Brinkerhoff, Feb. 25, 2014

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