Seniors are Safe Drivers Study Shows

With aging comes one of life's tough decisions: when is it time to hand over the keys and stop driving? Thanks to a new study showing that senior drivers are getting safer, this decision may be able to be delayed a little longer.

A recent Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) study indicates that a decreasing number of senior drivers are involved in fatal motor vehicle accidents . Between 1997 and 2008, fatal accidents for the age group of 70-74 fell by 21 percent, fatal accidents for the age group of 75-79 fell by 25 percent, and fatal accidents for the age group of 80 and older fell by 16 percent.

The study also indicates that the percentage of those over the age of 70 who still drive has increased to 78 percent in 2008; this is up from 73 percent in 1997.

Russ Rader, vice president of communications for IIHS, indicates that seniors are more susceptible to certain types of accidents: "The most common error made in senior-involved crashes is failure to yield the right-of-way. Compared with younger drivers, senior drivers are over-involved in certain types of collisions, especially intersection crashes."

While the IIHS' numbers indicate that seniors are becoming safer drivers, some states still put restrictions on senior driving. In Illinois, drivers over the age of 75 are required to take a road test to renew their license.

Along with a driving test, other provisions states often use to keep seniors safe include:

  • Vision tests
  • Proof of medical fitness
  • Shortening of renewal period

The IIHS indicates that there is no set age for seniors to hand over the keys, and every individual driver is different. However, there are factors that families and individuals should always consider in making the decision to stop driving - in particular when it comes to mental health and physical health, especially vision.