In 2012, there were approximately 29.1 million citizens in the United States age 70 and older, which represented about 9% of the total population of the United States. According to the Federal Highway Administration, that same year there were approximately 23.1 million licensed drivers 70 and older. Thus, in 2012, roughly 79 percent of the population 70 and older were licensed drivers, representing approximately 11 percent of all drivers.
The number of US drivers age 70 and older is increasing due to the fact that “baby boomers” account for a larger segment of the population than before and are keeping their licenses longer. Interestingly, drivers 70 and older are involved in a smaller amount of fatal crashes than they were in the past, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). 4,079 people 70 and older were killed in car accidents in 2012, representing a 31 percent decrease since 1997. This is partially attributable to the fact that many older motorists restrict their driving in general, and night driving in particular, as well as limiting other difficult driving situations.
According to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, (NHTSA) senior drivers 70 and over are more likely to be involved in certain types of car accidents, such as accidents merging onto a roadway, and intersection crashes. The NHTSA also reports that failure to yield the right-of-way is the most common mistake that senior drivers make leading to car crashes. The Insurance Institute notes that senior drivers often see the other vehicle but misjudge the time they have to enter the roadway. Drivers 80 and older more often simply fail to see the other vehicle entirely.
With regard to fatal car accidents, older drivers are more of a danger to themselves and their passengers than they are to other drivers, according to the IIHS. Part of the reason for this is that they are older and more susceptible to serious injuries. Frequently the passengers in vehicles operated by older drivers are seniors themselves, who are also more vulnerable to serious injury or death. In 2012, almost 75 percent of occupants killed in collisions involving a driver 70 or older were either the older driver at 59 percent, or their senior passengers at 15 percent.
Per mile traveled, fatal collision rates start to increase dramatically during the ages of 70-74 and are highest among operators who are 85 or older. The enhanced risk of fatal motor vehicle accidents is due to several factors, including increased susceptibility to injuries, (and in particular, chest injuries from striking the steering wheel or other non-movable objects in the vehicle), and complications once injured, instead of a greater likelihood of being involved in car crashes.
At the Law Office of Mark A. Siesel with offices in White Plains, the Bronx and Peekskill, New York, our experienced litigators have represented the victims of car crashes, motorcycle accidents, bus and truck accidents, and other vehicle crashes for the last 27 years throughout the state and federal Courts of New York State. From the inception of the case thorough its conclusion by way of settlement, trial or alternative dispute resolution, we fight the insurance companies and their defense counsel for the maximum compensation for our clients’ pain and suffering, past and future medical and hospital expenses, lost earnings, loss of earnings potential, and loss of enjoyment of life. Call our office at (914) 428-7386 or online at injurylawny.com for a free consultation to discuss your case in detail.