Elderly Drivers Pose Smaller Risk of Fatal Car Accidents than Teens

What type of driver poses the greatest threat to others on Chicago roadways? It might seem like a simple question to pose but it is an incredibly difficult one to answer. While generalizations can be made across types of motorists, the truth is that each individual driver determines how safe or risky her conduct will be and her actions, as well as her safety, may vary from one trip to another. Engaging in risky conduct like speeding, tailgating, using a cell phone while driving, driving while intoxicated, or drowsy driving are some of the most common ways that an otherwise safe motorist can become incredibly dangerous to others and these are also activities which Illinois sees, unfortunately, on a daily basis.

A new study has produced some data about two groups of drivers who are often thought to be among the most dangerous: the elderly and teenagers. The information was released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and the University of Colorado Anschultz Medical Campus and determined that teenage motorists cause more fatal car accidents and traffic crashes than do elderly drivers.

A main portion of the study focused on the rates of falling among older drivers and their respective rates of car accidents. Based on data comparisons, older drivers who self-reported one or more falls were found to be at a 40 percent increased risk for a traffic collision than other drivers, a significantly higher risk faced by these citizens who prone to suffering greater injuries in the event that a collision takes place.

Approximately 12 million senior Americans will experience a fall every year and with that high of a number, researchers wondered whether these numbers would increase as the population’s age increased. Data from 1998 through 2010 involving senior citizens aged 65 and older revealed an eight percent increase in the number of falls among people in that age group which translated to a 30 percent increase in the overall incident of falling. Experts believe that these increases in part are due to the fact that older Americans are living longer, and as more and more individuals reach their 80s and 90s, more and more will fall on a semi regular basis.

The relatedness of falling and traffic accidents is not as clear to understand. Some speculate that a decrease in coordination through age-related changes will lead elderly individuals to fall while walking and that same decrease in coordination will make emergency driving maneuvers impossible. While more able-bodied motorists may be able to steer around a hazard, elderly drivers may not be able to react quickly enough to take evasive action. Others say that preexisting medical conditions among our senior citizens will make them more likely to stumble and trip and that these same medical conditions will lead to problems while driving.

While the rates of car accidents involving elderly drivers is important to note, it is equally important to remember that teenagers cause more fatal collisions than older drivers and therefore, if saving lives is the ultimate goal, it may be wise to enact policy directed as this newest batch of motorists. If you have a teen in your house who is driving or will be driving in the near future, make sure your teen gets all the appropriate education and training she deserves. It is important to her overall success to have skills based both in the classroom and through real world driving practice so that she can operate a vehicle in a safe and reasonable manner.

The teen car accident rates are often linked to inexperience behind the wheel and to poor decision making while driving. These are conditions that can be addressed and potentially rectified before a crash ever occurs by helping your teen realize the importance of his conduct while driving and the great responsibility it is to operate a car. Make sure your teen gets as much experience as possible and in a variety of driving conditions to ensure that he is prepared to drive on his own and try to surpass the state minimum requirements for supervised driving time when you can. The more a teen learns, the safer that teen will be to himself and to others on the roads.

Prior Blog Entry:

How Safe is Your Pickup Truck?, Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, published April 27, 2016.


Some Senior Drivers Have Higher Crash Risk, by Denise Johnson, Insurance Journal, published April 27, 2016.

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