The Effects of Aging on Driving

August 24, 2016

As people age, their driving habits change. Inconsistent schedules, retirement and new hobbies may affect where and how often they drive. Most older adults have spent many years behind the wheel and they try to drive cautiously as a result. When they are in accidents, they tend to sustain more serious injuries than younger drivers. Their hearing, vision and motor skills start to decline as the years pass, and some health conditions or prescription medications can affect their ability to stay alert while driving.

Driving Habit Changes
Since retired individuals have more leisure time, they often try new activities, take frequent vacations or spend more time with friends and family. It is important for retired adults to continue driving as much as possible to remain independent.

The majority of Americans who are over the age of 70 have a driver's license. They do not drive as many total miles per year as most younger drivers. However, today's seniors are keeping their licenses longer than most seniors kept them in the past. As the population continues living longer, the number of senior drivers will keep climbing.

Common Types Of Crashes For Older Drivers
As people age, their risk of being involved in fatal accidents increases. This is especially true for drivers who are over the age of 75. However, older drivers are less likely to be involved in certain types of accidents. For example, they are less likely to be the at-fault intoxicated party in a DUI crash. They are also less likely to be involved in night accidents and high-speed crashes. 

Common types of accidents for older drivers include merging too soon in front of another vehicle, turning too slowly at an intersection to avoid oncoming traffic and merging into a passing vehicle that is in a blind spot. Also, they are commonly involved in rear-end accidents. They are more likely to not yield the right of way and inadvertently depart a lane. Some seniors also cause accidents by driving too slowly on freeways.

Crash Rates Among Older Drivers
Although older drivers face a higher risk of being involved in an accident, the rate of crashes over the past several years for people who are 65 or older has decreased. This is due to safer roads, more safety features in vehicles, better health practices, stricter license renewal policies and several other factors. 

The majority of traffic deaths among elderly individuals occur on weekdays during daylight hours. If older adults are physically frail, they are more susceptible to death at the scene of the accident. However, they may also die from long-term complications of a non-fatal injury such as a broken hip. To learn more about safe driving for aging adults, discuss your concerns with an agent.


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