Older Drivers Getting Safer?

According to a study by the National Highway Safety Administration,  the number of fatal crashes involving drivers over 65 has decreased in recent years. Over the period from 2005 to 2014, the number of people over age 65 in the US increased by 26%. Yet, over the same period, the number of driver fatalities in crashes involving older drivers declined by 10%. Does that mean older drivers are getting safer?

It turns out there’s a bit more to the story. An article posted by The National Institute of Health attributes some of the change to several factors:

  • Better health for older people
  • Safer cars
  • Safer roads
  • Older drivers “policing” themselves, for instance by not driving at night

The same article points out that driving is a complex task and that as we age driving becomes more difficult. Some of the most common errors older drivers make are:

  • Failing to yield the right of way
  • Failing to stay in the proper lane
  • Misjudging the time or distance needed to turn in front of others
  • Failing to stop completely at a stop sign
  • Speeding or driving too slowly

There are things older drivers can do to improve their skills and decrease the chance of causing an accident. AARP has a Driver Safety Course it sponsors that not only improves your driving skills but may even earn you a discount from your auto insurance company. According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), older drivers can stack the odds in their favor by purchasing cars with certain safety features.

Finally, there comes a time when it is simply prudent to stop driving. AARP discusses “the talk” relatives may need to have with older drivers about this. While this loss of mobility can have some psychological impact on an older person, it is important to understand that a serious accident can have catastrophic consequences.