DeAnn Owens
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Middle-aged Drivers Post Higher Crash Rates than Seniors

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Middle-aged drivers are at a higher risk of a fatal crash than drivers well into their golden years. According to a recent study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, drivers in their 70s posted lower crash rates than middle-aged drivers thanks to innovations in vehicle safety and technology. But that’s not all the senior drivers have over younger drivers, says the IIHS.

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“Not only do drivers in their 70s now have fewer fatal crashes per licensed driver, but they also have fewer police-reported crashes per mile traveled than middle-aged drivers,” according to the IIHS.

Study methodology

The study reviewed the driving trends of drivers over the age of 70 and between the ages of 35-54. Specifically, the IIHS examined how many fatal crashes occurred among a total of 100,000 drivers, fatal crashes per vehicle mile, and accidents and fatal crashes per 1,000 reports to police.

According to the study, between 2010 and 2018, the number of older drivers almost doubled compared to the previous 10 years. Overall, older drivers also put more miles on their cars.

“Improvements in healthcare mean that older Americans are remaining active and staying in the workforce,” said Jessica Cicchino, IIHS vice president for research and a co-author of the IIHS study. “It follows that they’re not only keeping their licenses longer but also driving more miles.”

Vehicle improvements

It’s not just older drivers who are taking better care of themselves in order to drive farther and longer. Automakers are prioritizing safety like never before in their lineups. Advanced safety systems and driver-assist technologies in vehicles have earned higher ratings in crash testing. The IIHS authors also suspect that larger traffic signs, available training courses, and infrastructure changes to support older drivers contributed to the positive driving trends of senior drivers revealed in their research.

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