NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


May 2, 2007

As the elderly population booms, aging drivers -- clinging to the independence that cars give them -- are losing their ability to operate the vehicles, causing more accidents, says USA Today.

Fatality rates for drivers begin to climb after age 65, according to a recent study by Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, based on data from 1999-2004:

  • From ages 75 to 84, the rate of about three deaths per 100 million miles driven is equal to the death rate of teenage drivers.
  • For drivers 85 and older, the fatality rate skyrockets to nearly four times higher than that for teens.


  • The numbers are particularly daunting at a time when the U.S. Census Bureau projects there will be 9.6 million people 85 and older by 2030, up 73 percent from today.
  • Road safety analysts predict that by 2030, when all baby boomers are at least 65, they will be responsible for 25 percent of all fatal crashes.
  • In 2005, 11 percent of fatal crashes involved drivers that old.

Debates over how to prepare for a boom in elderly drivers are resonating in statehouses across the nation, including Texas, where the Legislature passed a measure that could lead to more frequent vision tests and behind-the-wheel exams for drivers 79 and older.

The only measure scientifically proven to lower the rate of fatal crashes involving elderly drivers is forcing the seniors to appear at motor vehicle departments in person to renew their licenses, says the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), citing a 1995 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Source: Robert Davis and Anthony DeBarros, "Older, dangerous drivers a growing problem," USA Today, May 2, 2007.

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