Do Elderly Drivers Cause More Car Accidents?

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Elderly Driver Car Accident Statistics Explained

Elderly Driver Car Accident Statistics Explained

Aug 18, 2021

A 2014 report from the American Automobile Association (AAA) confirmed that as the baby boomer generation ages, there are statistically more older drivers on our nation’s roads and highways than ever before. Moreover, American seniors are continuing to keep their licenses and drive at older ages when compared to previous generations. The following statistics further highlight these trends:

  • 84% of Americans 65 and older held a driver’s license in 2010 compared to barely half in the early 1970s
  • One in six drivers on U.S. roads today are ages 65 and older
  • Those drivers 65 and over are spending more time behind the wheel, with travel patterns indicating about a 20% increase in trips and a 33% increase in miles travelled between 1990 and 2009

With so many older drivers on the roads, does the potential for motor vehicle accidents increase? Furthermore, are older drivers (classified as those 65 and above for the purposes of this particular blog) more dangerous than drivers of other age categories?

Below we will review statistics related to elderly driver car accidents and also look at how seniors can file a personal injury claim to recover financial compensation in the event of an unfortunate motor vehicle collision.

Ready to file a claim and pursue justice through a financial damages award? Our expert attorneys are available online or by phone now.

How Many Older Drivers are on the Roads?

A Report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed that in 2018, more than 45 million licensed drivers aged 65 and older were recorded in the United States. That equals a 60% increase in the number of older drivers since 2000.

While the number of older drivers on the roads has increased substantially, those individuals also happen to be operating their vehicles while taking prescription medications. In fact, an AAA report indicated that 90% of older drivers use prescription medicine, and two-thirds actually take multiple medications.

Are Older Drivers More Dangerous or Accident Prone?

A study conducted by the RAND Corporation – “What Risks Do Older Drivers Post to Traffic Safety?” – found that by 2025, drivers 65 years and older will represent 25% of the overall population (compared with 15% in 2001).

When compared to other age categories, older drivers are statistically more dangerous than some, but statistically less dangerous than others.

For example:

  • Drivers 65 and older are 16% likelier to cause an accident than adult drivers between 25 and 64 years old
  • However, drivers under 25 are actually 188% likelier than adult drivers 65 and older to cause an accident (meaning older drivers actually pose much less risk to the public than those under 25)

Overall, the RAND study concluded that “younger drivers pose a much greater risk to traffic safety than do older drivers, both because they are likelier to cause a crash and because they drive many more miles.” The study also found that older drivers (who represent 15% of all licensed drivers) cause just 7% of all two-car accidents (both fatal and nonfatal). However, younger drivers (who represent 13% of all licensed drivers) actually cause 43% of all two-car accidents.

In terms of when older drivers become statistically most dangerous, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports that fatal crashes per miles traveled increase at about age 70 and peak at age 85 and older.

How Many Older Driver Car Accidents Occur Every Year?

Data compiled by the CDC confirms that in 2018, almost 7,700 older adults (aged 65 and above) were killed in traffic crashes. Additionally, more than 250,000 older drivers were treated in emergency departments for motor vehicle crash-related injuries.

Those statistics mean that each day, more than 20 older drivers are killed and almost 700 are injured in crashes.

Which Factors Make Older Drivers More at Risk of Motor Vehicle Accidents?

The CDC provides the following statistics related to older drivers when compared to the rest of the population:

  • Older drivers, particularly those aged 75+, have higher crash death rates than middle-aged drivers between the ages of 35 and 54
  • Higher crash death rates among drivers aged 75+ are primarily due to increased vulnerability to injury in a crash (see the eggshell plaintiff rule we discussed in a previous blog)
  • Age-related declines in vision and cognitive functioning (including one’s ability to reason and remember), as well as physical changes might affect some older adults’ driving abilities

Although certain factors may make older drivers more prone to motor vehicle accidents, male drivers actually have substantially higher death rates than female drivers across all age groups (meaning regardless of the age of the driver – a male is statistically much more prone to being involved in a motor vehicle accident).

What Precautions Can Older Drivers Take to Improve Traffic Safety?

The CDC provides some steps that older drivers can take to help improve traffic safety. However, it should also be noted that these are general steps which can be practically recommended for drivers of all ages.

Said steps provided by the CDC include:

  1. Always Wear a Seatbelt as a Driver or Passenger
    Seat belt use has been consistently proven to be one of the most effective ways to save lives and reduce injuries in motor vehicle crashes.
  2. Drive When Conditions are Safest
    Conditions such as poor weather and driving at night increase the likelihood of crash injuries and deaths.
  3. Never Drive Under the Influence of Drugs of Alcohol
    Alcohol impairment increases the risk of being in a crash due to factors such as reduced coordination and impaired judgment.

Are Car Accidents the Leading Cause of Accidental Death for Seniors?

Although nearly 7,700 older adults are killed annually in car crashes, that represents a far smaller figure than the actual leading cause of accidental deaths among seniors. The number one cause of fatal injuries among seniors actually happens to be accidental falls (or general unintentional injuries). In fact, according to a new data brief from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), falls account for 85% of all injury-related deaths among older Americans.

Between 2012 and 2013, 90,640 adults aged 65 years or older died from unintentional injuries, and 55% of those injury deaths were due to falls. From 2000 to 2013, the age-adjusted fall injury death rate among the elderly nearly doubled, from 29.6 to 56.7 per 100,000, according to NCHS investigators Ellen Kramarow, PhD, and her colleagues involved in the study which led to the data brief.

Those fall-related figures are much higher than the nearly 8,000 elderly driver fatalities that are annually reported as a result of motor vehicle accidents.

Recovering Financial Compensation After an Elderly Driver Car Accident

As we’ve noted in previous blogs, California is a pure comparative fault state. That means drivers are assigned a portion of responsibility when a car accident occurs. While some accidents may involve a single driver being 100% liable for any resulting injuries, many car crashes actually involve shared fault.

When shared fault occurs, both drivers may be able to recover financial compensation for any injuries or losses resulting from the car accident. If you’re an elderly driver injured in a motor vehicle collision, do not assume you’re automatically at fault or unable to recover financial compensation.

The skilled, experienced, and trusted team of car accident lawyers at Dordulian Law Group (DLG) can assess the facts of your case and help you determine your available legal options. If you’ve suffered losses from medical or hospital bills, pain and suffering, or lost wages as a result of another driver’s negligence or malice, we will fight to recover the maximum compensation you deserve to make a complete recovery – physically, emotionally, and financially.

Founded by a former Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles County, Sam Dordulian, DLG is California’s top-rated and leading car accident firm helping injured victims recover the financial damages awards they deserve after an untimely accident. Dordulian brings a level of experience that can’t be found with most personal injury attorneys, having successfully obtained more than 100 jury trial victories and recovered more than $100,000,000 in settlements and verdicts for injured victims like you.

Our experienced attorneys can help you pursue a financial award for your personal injury case. Contact us online or by phone for a free consultation today.

After a car accident injury, you deserve the very best legal representation which includes the experience and proven results that will give you the peace of mind you need to focus on what’s most important – your physical recovery and overall well-being. DLG’s top-rated Car Accident Division is comprised of California’s leading personal injury attorneys, and our experience, dedication, and results demonstrate the sincere commitment we make to each and every client we’re proud to represent:

  • Over $100,000,000 successfully recovered in settlements and verdicts
  • A 98% success record
  • Former Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles County
  • More than 100 jury trial victories
  • Over 30 years of combined personal injury experience
  • In-house Chief Investigator and retired LAPD detective

Contact us today online or by phone at 818-322-4056 for a free consultation and to learn more about what makes DLG California’s leading team of car accident lawyers. We’re ready to fight for your right to maximum financial compensation after an unfortunate elderly driver car accident, and our No Win/No Fee Guarantee means you never have to worry about any upfront fees or out-of-pocket expenses.

With DLG, injured car accident victims never pay a penny until we recover the maximum financial compensation they deserve. For an elderly driver car accident injury, the best call you can make is to the dedicated and proven team of attorneys at DLG.

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