Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Contrary to Earlier Predictions, Older Driver Fatal Crashes Trend Down

15.01.2009
The number of drivers 70 and older is growing at a fast pace, and older drivers are keeping their licenses longer and driving more. Despite these trends, older driver crash deaths and fatal crash involvements are dropping at a faster pace than for younger drivers.

Despite growing numbers on the road, fewer older drivers died in crashes and fewer were involved in fatal collisions during 1997-2006 than in years past, a new Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study reports.

Crash deaths among drivers 70 and older fell 21 percent during the period, reversing an upward trend, even as the population of people 70 and older rose 10 percent. Compared with drivers ages 35-54, older drivers experienced much bigger declines in fatal crash involvements. Reasons for the fatality declines aren't clear, but another new Institute study indicates that older adults increasingly self-limit driving as they age and develop physical and cognitive impairments.

Compared with drivers ages 20-69, fewer people 70 and older are licensed to drive, and they drive fewer miles per licensed driver. However, older people now hang onto their licenses longer, drive more miles, and make up a bigger proportion of the population than in past years as baby boomers age. There were more than 20 million licensed drivers 70 and older in 2006, compared with just under 18 million in 1997. The total annual miles these older drivers traveled climbed 29 percent from 1995 to 2001, compared with a 6 percent rise among 35-54 year-olds. Per mile traveled, crash rates and fatal crash rates increase starting at age 70 and rise markedly after 80.

These trends have raised concerns about older drivers in fatal crashes. Their fragility makes them vulnerable to getting hurt in a crash and then to dying from their injuries. Physical, cognitive, and visual declines associated with aging may lead to increased crash risk.

Fatal crash involvements decline: Earlier research predicted that older drivers would make up a substantially larger proportion of drivers in fatal crashes, so "the findings are a welcome surprise," says Anne McCartt, Institute senior vice president for research, and an author of the new studies. "No matter how we looked at the fatal crash data for this age group — whether by miles driven, licensed drivers, or population — the fatal crash involvement rates for drivers 70 and older declined, and did so at a faster pace than the rates for drivers 35-54 years old."

Declines per licensed driver increased with age so that drivers 80 and older had the most dramatic decreases. If the fatal crash involvement rates for older drivers had mirrored the trend for younger ones from 1997 to 2006, nearly 7,000 additional older drivers would have been in fatal crashes (1,376 drivers 70-74 years old, 1,680 drivers 75-79, and 3,935 drivers 80 and older). Fatal crash rates fell among older drivers for most types of crashes, and the decline was dramatic for crashes at intersections.

"The large drop in intersection crashes is especially important because Institute and other studies have shown that older drivers are overrepresented in multiple-vehicle crashes at intersections," McCartt says. "The data don't allow us to point to any one reason why older drivers' fatal crash experience has improved. Some drivers may have benefited from newer and safer vehicles, and older people generally are more fit than in years past, with better access to health care."

Older drivers are mostly a danger to themselves. Seventy-five percent of people who die in crashes involving older drivers are these drivers themselves or their older passengers.

Older drivers limit car trips: One way some older drivers lower their crash risk is to limit driving. A separate ongoing Institute study is examining how older adults restrict their driving in response to declines in their health, mobility, vision, and memory. Researchers recruited drivers 65 and older in 3 states as they renewed their licenses between November 2006 and December 2007. In the first of several planned interviews, more than 9 in 10 of these drivers said that driving themselves is their primary way to travel. Fewer than 1 percent said they'd been advised by family, friends, or a doctor to give up driving.

Most drivers reported at least some impairment, and the extent of impairment increased with age. For example, 26 percent of drivers 65-69 reported having at least some type of mobility issue, compared with 43 percent of drivers 80 and older. The oldest drivers were more likely to say they restricted their own driving. Drivers 80 and older were more than twice as likely as 65-69 year-olds to self-limit driving by doing such things as avoiding night driving, making fewer trips, traveling shorter distances, and avoiding interstates and driving in ice or snow.

The percentage of drivers who said they limit their driving increased with each added degree of impairment. Drivers cited memory and medical impairments more often than vision or mobility ones. For example, among drivers 80 and older, 74 percent reported medical conditions such as diabetes or arthritis. Sixty-nine percent cited some memory impairment, such as more often forgetting names and appointments or misplacing items, compared with 5 years ago.

Russ Rader | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.iihs.org

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht ECG procedure indicates whether an implantable defibrillator will extend a patient's life
02.09.2019 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Fracking prompts global spike in atmospheric methane
14.08.2019 | European Geosciences Union

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: 'Nanochains' could increase battery capacity, cut charging time

How long the battery of your phone or computer lasts depends on how many lithium ions can be stored in the battery's negative electrode material. If the battery runs out of these ions, it can't generate an electrical current to run a device and ultimately fails.

Materials with a higher lithium ion storage capacity are either too heavy or the wrong shape to replace graphite, the electrode material currently used in...

Im Focus: Stevens team closes in on 'holy grail' of room temperature quantum computing chips

Photons interact on chip-based system with unprecedented efficiency

To process information, photons must interact. However, these tiny packets of light want nothing to do with each other, each passing by without altering the...

Im Focus: Happy hour for time-resolved crystallography

Researchers from the Department of Atomically Resolved Dynamics of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg, the University of Hamburg and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) outstation in the city have developed a new method to watch biomolecules at work. This method dramatically simplifies starting enzymatic reactions by mixing a cocktail of small amounts of liquids with protein crystals. Determination of the protein structures at different times after mixing can be assembled into a time-lapse sequence that shows the molecular foundations of biology.

The functions of biomolecules are determined by their motions and structural changes. Yet it is a formidable challenge to understand these dynamic motions.

Im Focus: Modular OLED light strips

At the International Symposium on Automotive Lighting 2019 (ISAL) in Darmstadt from September 23 to 25, 2019, the Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, a provider of research and development services in the field of organic electronics, will present OLED light strips of any length with additional functionalities for the first time at booth no. 37.

Almost everyone is familiar with light strips for interior design. LED strips are available by the metre in DIY stores around the corner and are just as often...

Im Focus: Tomorrow´s coolants of choice

Scientists assess the potential of magnetic-cooling materials

Later during this century, around 2060, a paradigm shift in global energy consumption is expected: we will spend more energy for cooling than for heating....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Optical Technologies: International Symposium „Future Optics“ in Hannover

19.09.2019 | Event News

Society 5.0: putting humans at the heart of digitalisation

10.09.2019 | Event News

Interspeech 2019 conference: Alexa and Siri in Graz

04.09.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quality control in immune communication: Chaperones detect immature signaling molecules in the immune system

20.09.2019 | Life Sciences

Moderately Common Plants Show Highest Relative Losses

20.09.2019 | Life Sciences

The Fluid Fingerprint of Hurricanes

20.09.2019 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>