More and more elderly drivers are hitting the road

elderly driverWhen compared to prior years, there are currently more elderly drivers on the roads. Yet despite this increase, the number of fatal crashes among the older population has decreased according to a recent IIHS study.

During the 1970s, less than 50 percent of the 65 and older population held a driver’s license. As of 2010, 84 percent of Americans aged 65 or older held driver’s license. There are several reasons why the number of elderly drivers has increased throughout the last few decades.

First off, modern medicines have significantly improved contributing to a healthier senior population who therefore has the capability to still drive. In fact, 90 percent of the elderly drivers use at least one prescription medication.

Secondly, for many seniors, it is necessary for them to drive because they are staying in the workforce longer. In fact, 18 percent of women and 25 percent of men over the age of 65 are still working.

The number of elderly drivers on the road will continue to grow as baby boomers age. Within the next 35 years, the IIHS expects the number of Americans age 70 or older will grow from 9 percent to 16 percent; a phenomenon dubbed the “silver tsunami.”

Many drivers may find these statistics concerning; after all, elderly drivers have a reputation for not being the safest drivers on the road. It is true that crash rates increase after the age of 70, but occurrences of fatal accidents has plummeted throughout the years.

The number of drivers 70 years of age or older fell by 42 percent between the years 1997 and 2012.  A healthier senior population and improved safety technology in today’s vehicles is most likely responsible for this decline.