Amidst all of the grim statistics about injuries and fatalities linked to driving errors, there is one bit of good news: today's drivers aged 70 and older are less likely to be involved in car accidents than they were a decade ago.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently released a nationwide study that looked at drivers aged 70 in the present day and in past decades. One motivation was that the elderly population has been swelling, increasing the number of older drivers on the road and stoking fears that it will lead to an increase in accidents. Yet Institute researchers found that older drivers today were less likely to be involved in crashes due to the fact that older drivers are generally getting healthier and cars are generally getting safer. Not only are seniors less likely to be in car accidents, but when they are involved, they are also less likely to suffer fatal injuries.
The Institute traced the shift back to the mid-1990s. From 1997 through 2012, the fatal crash rate per licensed driver fell 42% for older drivers and 30% for middle-aged drivers. In terms of miles traveled, fatal car crashes fell 39% for elderly drivers and 26% for middle-aged drivers between 1995 and 2008. The biggest measured decline of all was among drivers who were older than 80: their rate was nearly two times that of middle-aged drivers, as well as drivers between the ages of 70 and 74.