Elderly Drivers May Pose a Greater Risk to All Drivers

Older DriverIf you’re a millennial, then there's a good statistical chance that you’re reading this blog post on the bus because, as a millennial, you drive less. According to research published by the Frontier Group, from 2001 to 2009, 16- to 34-year-olds drove 23% fewer overall miles on U.S. roadways.

That’s a huge decline, and it bucks the trends associated with the millenial demographic over previous decades. It’s almost as if millenials who owned cars suddenly decided not to drive them during summer months.

Why have younger people’s driving habits shifted that much during a relatively short amount of time? Millenials had to adapt to an transformed economy, especially in Washington state; many of them moved to cities, started using technology to squeeze all of the efficiency out of public transit, and established (or failed to establish) themselves during a period of financial calamity.

This leaves a higher number of older drivers on the road and on average, these individuals are statistically involved in the highest number of motor vehicle accidents.

Data Shows Elderly Drivers Statistically More Dangerous

According to an analysis of the 2009 census data, drivers between the age of 45 and 54 have the most vehicle collisions, causing a fifth of all collisions. Ironically many experts in the field of elder care recommend 40 as the age to engage seniors about deteriorating skill levels, particularly driving skills.

The bottom line is that, ultimately, we’re becoming a nation of older drivers. Even the CDC has reported that there were 23% more registered drivers in the U.S. at age 65 or older in 2009 than there were back in 1999. 

Injecting more sexagenarians into America’s vehicular bloodstream produces ambivalent effects. Older drivers self-monitor to a greater extent, rarely driving with alcohol in their system, forgoing driving unless it’s absolutely necessary, and only scooting along in optimal conditions.

However, these same drivers get more injured from collision conditions that don’t hurt (or barely hurt) drivers in their fifties. Wearing a seat belt does less good. While distracted driving goes down overall, cognitive impairment increases due to the nature of the aging brain. 

For reference, a 2004 study that was published in Advances in Transportation Studies demonstrated that older drivers are nearly four times as likely to press the wrong pedal while driving. And while this data may be a decade outdated, traffic safety experts across the world maintain that the statistics remain relatively unchanged today.

The American legal system continues to encounter challenges when navigating the graying realm of U.S. highways. Most people involved in motor vehicle accidents should run their situation by a vetted personal injury attorney, particularly if the at-fault driver’s insurance company is fighting the victim’s claim for damages.

Chris Davis
Top-rated, award-winning, attorney practicing wrongful death & serious injury law in Seattle.
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