By and large, drivers over 55 are a safe bet: They’re less likely to exceed speed limits; more likely to wear seatbelts and drive when conditions are most favorable; and generally do what they feel but keep both hands on the wheel--but not always.
In spite of the plusses, drivers “of a certain age” should be aware that as wisdom behind the wheel increases, certain faculties diminish with the passing of time. With this in mind, here are a few handy facts (courtesy of IIHS) for senior drivers and their families:
- The number of drivers age 70 and older is growing. As baby boomers age, older people make up a bigger proportion of the population than they used to. In addition, older drivers are keeping their licenses longer.
- Drivers age 70 and older have higher crash rates per mile traveled than middle-aged drivers—though not as high as that of young drivers.
- Older drivers are involved in fewer fatal collisions than in the past. A total of 4,079 people ages 70 and older died in crashes in 2012. (That’s 31 percent fewer than in 1997.)
- Surveys show that many people drive fewer miles and are more likely to avoid challenging driving situations as they get older.
Some states require in-person license renewal for older drivers to help identify those who shouldn’t be driving or should have restricted licenses. Still, the best defense is common sense. Seniors who drive when they are not physically able to do so safely may lose their insurance coverage, not to mention endangering themselves and others on the road—so it’s important for families to step in to monitor and help.