Safety Shift - Drivers Ages 70-79 Now Have Fewer Accidents Than Those 35-54
Researchers at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety have announced that drivers in their seventies are now among the safest drivers on the road between the ages of 35 and older. This is a shift in safety demographics from prior studies.
The new data, illustrated in the graph above, shows that drivers in their seventies are safer on the road than are drivers 35-54 and 80+. This despite a meaningful rise in the number of drivers in the 70-79 age bracket actively driving. “Improvements in healthcare mean that older Americans are remaining active and staying in the workforce,” says Jessica Cicchino, IIHS vice president for research and a co-author of the study. “It follows that they’re not only keeping their licenses longer but also driving more miles.”
The study by IIHS researchers compared trends among drivers 70 and over with drivers ages 35-54, looking at fatal crash involvements per 100,000 licensed drivers and per vehicle mile traveled, police-reported crash involvements per vehicle mile traveled, and the number of driver deaths per 1,000 police-reported crashes. The number of older licensed drivers rose almost twice as fast from 2010 to 2018 as it had in the previous decade, while older drivers’ average annual mileage also continued to steadily grow.
“Improvements in healthcare mean that older Americans are remaining active and staying in the workforce,” says Jessica Cicchino, IIHS vice president for research and a co-author of the study. “It follows that they’re not only keeping their licenses longer but also driving more miles.”
Researchers don't see one factor as the reason, but many. Roadway design changes, changes to healthcare, changes to safety systems in automobiles, and the econmy played a role. “Although efforts to address the ‘silver tsunami’ were largely ad hoc, in hindsight what we ended up with was a systems approach,” IIHS President David Harkey says. “And it worked.”
View the study in more detail at the IIHS website.
John Goreham is a long-time New England Motor Press Association member and recovering engineer. Following his engineering program, John also completed a marketing program at Northeastern University and worked with automotive component manufacturers. In addition to Torque News, John's work has appeared in print in dozens of American newspapers and he provides reviews to many vehicle shopping sites. You can follow John on Twitter, and view his credentials at Linkedin