Senior Safe Drivers and Baby Boomers
There was a time when the prevailing line of thought was older drivers are making our roads unsafe. Their vision is bad, they don’t hear very well and their reaction time is just too slow. We were told as the aging baby boomers reach the “golden years” our streets will become increasingly more dangerous. Just too many old people on the road.
Well it seems all that hot air could have been put to better use blowing-up balloons. The streets of our towns have not realized the dire predictions of old. It has been determine that as baby boomers, we were good drivers then and we are good drivers still. I’m referring to a new study just released by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). In this new study, IIHS researchers compared trends for drivers ages 70 and older with those for drivers ages 35-54 for national fatal passenger vehicle crash involvements per 100,000 licensed drivers during 1997-2012 and per vehicle miles traveled from 1995 to 2008.
The report found that Senior Safe Drivers are not only less likely to crash than in recent years, they also are less likely to be injured or killed when they do crash.
As we get older we develop different driving habits. For instance, we don’t need to drive as much as we use to. Many, if not most will voluntarily “give up the keys” when we feel it may be dangerous for ourselves and others to continue driving. You would think senior drivers are more likely to drive only short distances, .. but that doesn’t seem to be the case.
The fact that senior safe drivers increased their average mileage during 1997-2012 may indicate that they are remaining physically and mentally comfortable with driving tasks. When older adults reduce their trips, there’s evidence that it is often because they are self-regulating their driving in response to impairments.
“Older drivers are not only less likely to crash than in recent years, they also are sharing in the benefits of newer and safer vehicles. It also helps that older people in general are more fit than in years past, with better access to emergency services and health care,” says Anne McCartt, the Institute’s senior vice president for research and a co-author of the study.
“This should help ease fears that aging baby boomers are a safety threat. Even crashes among the oldest drivers have been on a downswing,” says McCartt.