Old Motorists Crash Less, Die More

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
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old motorists crash less die more

Reuters reports that a Rand Corporation research study concludes that younger drivers are more likely to cause accidents than older drivers. While older drivers make up 15 percent of American drivers, they cause seven percent of accidents. Younguns make up 13 percent of U.S. drivers and cause 43 percent of accidents. The study does not appear to differentiate between the severity of accidents (fatalities, property damage, etc) and fails to list accident causation– data critical for any determination of the relative safety of each driving population. Unfortunately for those long in the tooth, the study says that the elderly are seven time more likely to die in an accident than the whipper snappers, largely due to senior citizens' frail nature and often poor health.

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • Rpn453 Rpn453 on Jul 21, 2007

    Is it really due to their frail nature and poor health? Around here, the old folks often like to try to drive across oncoming 70 mph traffic at inopportune moments.

  • SunnyvaleCA SunnyvaleCA on Jul 21, 2007

    I know several ancient people who drive ancient vehicles (no airbags, crumple zones, etc) and don't wear seatbelts. Those technologies don't help with the number of accidents, but they make surviving an accident much easier.

  • TexasAg03 TexasAg03 on Jul 21, 2007

    I downloaded the paper and did a quick skim (I’ll try to read it completely later). I found this explanation of a table showing accidents per mile driven by age: However, there are problems with the accident and VMT data that make us question whether Figure 2.1 provides an accurate picture of how relative riskiness varies with age. First ,the GES records only police-reported accidents. Since many accidents are not reported to the police, the GES is likely to greatly underestimate the total number of accidents that occur in the United States each year. Moreover, because police-reported accidents are much likelier to involve an injury than are unreported accidents, these accident numbers are likely to overrepresent accidents involving older drivers. This is because older drivers are much more susceptible than younger drivers to the physical trauma of an accident and so are much likelier to be injured. Another problem with the accident data is that they do not provide a reliable way of determining who was at fault. Thus, although the data might show that some group of individuals appears to be involved in more accidents, we cannot say for certain whether this group in fact causes more accidents. So, they can’t say who causes more accidents with the data they have available, but they make that very case anyway. Wow.

  • OhMyGoat OhMyGoat on Jul 22, 2007

    Recently, a driver of about 75 years of age was picking up his granddaughter at a local school. As he approached the school, his vehicle suddenly accelerated and he drove into a number of students waiting on the sidewalk sending a number of them to the hospital. Fortunately, there were no fatalities or serious injuries. The driver's excuse? The brakes on his vehicle must have failed. His vehicle? A 2004 Honda Pilot. Hmmm... It sure seems as though a large number of elderly driver related accidents are blamed (at least by the driver) on "brake failure" and/or "unintended acceleration" Coincidence? Oh by the way, the investigation showed no sign of mechanical failure on the Pilot. Surprised?