The Institute says elderly drivers are “fit for the road.” But rewind to the year 2001, and the headlines were a little different: “Older Drivers Up Close: They Aren’t Dangerous, Except Maybe to Themselves.”
That title was a warning to the era’s large group of baby boomers: Check your driving skills, because old age means not only a bigger chance of crashing—it also means a bigger chance of getting hurt in them.
Now, the IIHS says it sees credible evidence for toning down that warning. The Institute’s latest report broke down the figures between 1997 and 2012, when “fatal crash involvement” per licensed driver fell:
- 36% for drivers between 70 and 74 years old
- 46% for drivers between 75 and 79 years old
- 49% for drivers 80 years old and older
The overall drop for older drivers was 42%. Meanwhile, involvement rates for middle-aged drivers fell only 30% during the same period.
The Institute said the drop in involvement rates was greater for older drivers compared to middle-aged drivers “no matter how we looked at the fatal crash data.”
“This should help ease fears that aging baby boomers are a safety threat,” says Anne McCartt, a senior vice president for research at the Institute and the study’s co-author. “Even crashes among the oldest drivers have been on a downswing.”