As people get older, their risk factors for car accidents tend to increase. These risk factors can result in higher rates of fatal accidents among older drivers. The number of older Americans dying in car accidents increased by 20% in the past ten years.
Part of this increase has to do with the growing size of the population; however, these deaths remain a concern.
People most impacted in accidents involving older drivers
In 2020, about 67% of the people who died in an accident involving an older driver were either the driver or a passenger who was also aged 65 or older. Less than 3% of the deaths involved a passenger younger than 65.
Factors involved in accidents with older drivers
Older drivers get in fewer fatal accidents than younger drivers; however, their rate of fatal accidents is higher, particularly in males over the age of 75. This happens because while many older people stop driving or drive less as they get older, leaving fewer older drivers on the roads, the drivers who keep driving are more likely to get in a fatal accident than younger drivers.
Older drivers tend to have slower reaction times, poorer situational awareness, vision problems and declining motor controls. Additionally, older drivers are more likely to suffer fatal injuries because their bodies tend to be easier to damage and slower to heal than younger people.
Older drivers can reduce their chances of getting in an accident by staying physically active, avoiding distracted driving and understanding their physical limitations and any potential impairment their medications may cause. Physicians and family members can help older adults decide when they should stop driving.