According to a RAND study released July 17th, drivers age 65 and older are one-third as likely as drivers age 15-24 to cause automobile accidents. Researchers found in 2001 that drivers 65 years of age and older accounted for about 15 percent of all licensed drivers in the United States, but only 7 percent of all accidents. Drivers aged 15-24 accounted for around 13 percent of all licensed drivers and caused about 43% of accidents. “Not only do seniors drive much less that younger drivers, they drive at safer times during the day and avoid poorer road conditions” said David Loughran, the lead author of the study. Loughran goes on to say that young drivers pose the greatest risk to traffic safety while seniors who drive pose the greatest risk to themselves. The study adds that seniors who drive are generally in poorer health and are frailer then younger drivers. It also says that older driver’s are seven times more likely to be killed during a two car accident.
The study projects that by the year 2025 drivers 65 and older will represent 25 percent of the driving population. In response to the aging driving population many states have imposed more rigorous age based licensing requirements for older drivers. Only two states thus far, Illinois and New Hampshire require older drivers to take road tests. However, many state legislators are continuing to consider tightening the licensing requirements for older drivers. The RAND study concludes that instead of imposing stringent age based licensing requirements, states should improve car and road design to make travel safer for older drivers. The study says that the new age based requirements would be costly to both states and seniors and the benefits of doing so have not yet been validated.
RAND is a leading non-profit research organization who provides objective analysis and solutions to the public and government agencies. For more information and access to RAND’s entire report titled “Regulating Older Drivers: Are New Policies Needed?” please visit their website at www.rand.org.