NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Older Drivers Prompt Concerns

May 1, 2001

Elderly drivers are dying at a record pace and they account for a disproportionate share of crashes on the nation's roads, officials report. As the U.S. population ages, the problem can only get worse, they say.

  • Highway deaths for motorists under 65 have dropped 3 percent since 1995 -- but among seniors they have jumped 15 percent over the same period.
  • Elderly drivers make up about 12 percent of the population -- but they now account for 18 percent of those killed on highways.
  • The number of drivers older than 65 will more than double to 60 million during the next three decades as baby boomers move into retirement.
  • Studies show that seniors are driving more often and farther than ever before.

State and federal agencies are trying to make roads safer for the elderly by increasing licensing scrutiny, make street signs larger and erecting more traffic lights -- which are easier to see than stop signs. But even National Highway Traffic Safety Administration officials concede that they are ill-prepared for the coming surge in senior drivers.

Nine states are considering legislation that would require doctors to report serious medical conditions afflicting seniors -- such as failing eyesight and heart disease -- to motor-vehicle authorities. Thirteen states require seniors to renew their licenses more frequently than other drivers.

Source: Scott Bowles, "Elderly Drivers Die at Record Pace," USA Today, May 1, 2001.


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