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The future bodes well for older drivers

For years, safety analysts feared that as the baby boomer population grew across the U.S., the number of auto accidents involving older drivers would increase. However, with the advent of crash avoidance technologies such as lane integrity systems, backup cameras and emergency braking systems, it is becoming less likely that senior citizens will be involved in car crashes.

The combination of these systems, along with airbags and car design changes have played a part in the reduction of crash rates involving senior citizens, according to a report produced by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. 

Among the many trends identified, the study highlighted the crash rates involving older drivers between 1997 and 2012. In that period, fatal crash rates fell nearly 40 percent for these drivers. This increase was larger than the same rate for middle aged drivers (whose crash rates only fell 26 percent between 1995 and 2008). In fact, drivers aged 80 and older saw a greater drop in traffic fatalities.

The numbers bode well for older drivers; especially given that the number of people aged 70 and over is expected to be about 64 million, which would represent 16 percent of the population.  The researchers behind the study say that driving cars will be significantly different in that time compared to past generations.

In the meantime, drivers (of all ages) must use reasonable care while behind the wheel. This means that they must devote their attention to the road ahead, and limit distractions from cell phones. If they fail to do these things, and their actions lead to an accident, they could be held liable.

Source: “Accident rates improving for older drivers,” Feb.20, 2014

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