According to the Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration (FHA), as of three years ago, nearly 42 million drivers with valid licenses in the United States were older than 64. As the baby boomer population continues to age, those numbers are likely to rise.
There's nothing wrong with older people driving as long as they are physically and mentally capable of doing so. Regardless of their capacities or the lack thereof, simply being an older driver enhances their risk of dying in an auto accident.
Drivers between 70 and 74 years of age start to see an uptick in their involvement in deadly collisions. However, the numbers peak for drivers 85 and older.
Older motorists aren't inherently more likely to cause these accidents (although that can be a concern). It also has to do with the physical fragility of older people and their tendency to succumb to the medical complications of their injuries.
Nearly 7,400 senior citizens (those 65 and above) died in 2016 from injuries they suffered in auto accidents. Another 290,000 in that age group suffered injuries serious enough to require a trip to the emergency room.
Below are some safer driving tips for older adults.
- Wear seat belts
- Do most of your driving during the daylight hours when the weather is clear
- Never drive on medication or after drinking
- Eliminate distractions inside the vehicle
- Plan your routes and drive on familiar roads when possible
Some senior citizens may benefit from not driving and taking public transportation, using ride-share services or riding with friends or relatives. Not only will this reduce their carbon footprint, but may decrease their risk of being injured or killed in an auto accident.
This Memorial Day holiday weekend and throughout the summer, regardless of your age, allow for extra time to arrive at your destination. Don't become another highway statistic.