Driving Statistics All Seniors Should Know

Mar 30, 2016

Driving Statistics All Seniors Should Know

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At one point or another, everyone has probably heard a fellow driver blame someone’s inability to drive correctly based on age. Just a few of the common complaints against older adults include: speeding, driving under the speed limit, failing to stay in the correct lane, failing to yield, stopping or abiding by the appropriate sign, and misuse of turn signals. All of these things can turn a safe, everyday activity into a hazardous one. While not every individual senior will lose the ability to drive safely in their lifetime, it is important to understand how aging affects driving, and current senior driving statistics.

How Growing Old Affects Driving Ability

Seniors are faced with a number of physical changes as they age, and many of these changes have the ability to affect an individual’s capability to drive. Many seniors begin to lose the ability to see correctly or hear everything going on around them, while others begin to lose perception and misjudge the space between themselves and another car. Another age-related ailment that makes driving dangerous is dementia. Often seniors begin driving, and either forget how to get where they are going, or forget where they are going in the first place.

Aging doesn’t only affect an individual’s likelihood to be involved in an accident, but also their likelihood to be seriously injured in an accident. Older adults tend to be more frail, which means they may be more likely to get hurt and end up in the hospital if they are in a fender bender, or minor accident.

Older adult drivers have a lot working against them, but it’s crucial to remember that the ability to drive coincides with independence for many adults, and giving up a license and handing over the keys can be a difficult thing. Needless to say, sometimes, it’s necessary.

Shocking Senior Driving Statistics

As one might imagine, the likelihood that an individual is involved in a car accident increases greatly with age, the most likely being adults over the age of 75. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, senior drivers were involved in some frightening statistics in 2012. Here are some of their statistics:

  • Adults over the age of 65 made up 17 percent of traffic accident fatalities.
  • Older males are about 20 percent more likely to be involved in a traffic accident than older females.
  • In 2012, 45,337 Americans passed away due to a traffic accident and 11,643 of them were over the age of 55.
  • Seniors are most likely to get into accidents at intersections.
  • Most traffic accidents involving seniors occur during the day on weekdays (Monday through Friday).

Despite this, seniors also pave the way for the other age groups when it comes habits for safe driving. Here are just a few:

  • 79 percent of seniors wear their seatbelts, compared to other age groups where only 64 percent of younger adults wear them.
  • Seniors typically drive less often and fewer miles than younger adults
  • Seniors are 66 percent less likely to drink and drive

While these statistics show that many seniors are taking the steps that are necessary to remain a safe driver, there are other things they can do as well!

How Seniors Can Stay Safe on the Road

Seniors can ensure their safety on the road and continue to feel comfortable driving by following a few recommendations. For example, if it’s pouring rain, snowing or another form of inclement weather, seniors should do their best to stay off the roads. Another way seniors can stay safe is by avoiding driving at night or other times that they can’t see well. While there are many ways seniors can stay safe on the road, it could be as simple as seeing a physician a few times a year to guarantee that their eyes are still equipped for driving!

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is it possible to get someone to drive my parent around and run errands when I’m not home?

Yes, there are programs included in home care that will allow your parent to receive transportation services even when you're unavailable. Speak with your home care provider to decide which type of caregiving services would be the best fit for your loved one's needs. 

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Can a senior with Alzheimer's disease still drive safely?

A senior in the early stage of Alzheimer’s or another dementia-related condition does not necessarily need to stop driving. However, drivers with these conditions might not know when they are an unsafe driver. As a senior, you should have a friend or family member that is willing to tell you when your driving becomes unsafe.

It is also important to tell a friend or family member if you become confused while driving. Seniors with moderate to severe dementia should not drive.

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