1 — Not noticing potential conflicts or traffic signs and signals.
2 — Misjudging gaps when crossing traffic
3 — Moving or stopping the vehicle too slowly.
4 — Conducting a visual search poorly.
Intersections Are Deadly for Older Drivers
Compared to drivers in the same age group, the graph below shows that drivers younger than 30 and older than 70, are more likely to have contributed to the crashes, than drivers between 30 and 70.
What We Know About Intersections
A NHTSA study examined two-car crashes in which only one driver was determined to be the primary contributor (for example, ran a stop sign) compared to drivers in the same age group who also were in a crash but did not contribute to the crash. Drivers under 30 and older than 70 were more likely to contribute to the crashes while those in their 30s through 60s were more often not at fault. As intersections become more complex, drivers in their 70s begin showing some increased risk of error, and those in their 80s were clearly having problems. Drivers in their 60s performed like those in their 30s, 40, and 50s.
For more information:
Intersection Crashes Among Drivers in their 60s, 70s, and 80s. Download Study
Identifying Behaviors and Situations Associated With Increased Crash Risk for Older Drivers. Download study
Rapidly changing demographics will double the number of Maryland drivers over 70 in just 7 years and more than triple the number of drivers over 70 in 15 years. The baby boomers, the largest generation in American history, total 83 million and represent about one-quarter of the U.S. population. Sometimes referred to as a ‘senior tsunami,’ the number of Americans 65 and older is expected to grow from 40 million today to 88.5 million by 2050. In just 20 years all baby boomers will be over 70 years of age. The figure below documents the expected growth of Maryland’s older licensed driver population over the next 25 years. The number of Maryland drivers over 70 is expected to double in 7 years and more than triple in 15 years.
Maryland Older Licensed Driver Population – 2013 to 2040 Projections Based on Maryland FY 2013 Actual Licensed Drivers
Crash By Jurisdiction
Older drivers become more crash prone with age, even though they drive less. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, fatal crash rates per mile traveled begin to grow starting at age 70, and increase notably after age 80.
Maryland Older Driver Injury Crashes by Jurisdiction, 2011
Recommendations For Maryland
Road safety policies must be crafted and implemented to address the growing number of older drivers in Maryland. Based on national and state-based research and federally recommended best practices, it is clear that older drivers require screening of their physical and cognitive functionality every two years. As Maryland policymakers review the literature and determine a course of action, there are certain steps Maryland can take immediately to improve road safety:
1. Increase referrals to Medical Advisory Board (MAB) • Inform health care professionals of the role of the MAB and urge them to identify and refer patients with problems that affect driving. • Provide training to law enforcement on identifying drivers with problems that affect driving. • Allow electronic referrals for law enforcement and health care professionals to ease referrals to MAB.
2. Shorten driver license renewal period for older drivers to every two years • Reduce the fee of each renewal to avoid a greater financial burden on older drivers from more frequent renewals. • Educate drivers of the cognitive and physical problems that affect driving. • Inform older drivers of driver education classes for older drivers and rehabilitation services available from occupational therapists to improve driving safety.
3. Raise Awareness • Educate drivers and their families of the cognitive and physical problems that affect driving. • Distribute information on driver education classes for older drivers that will help them stay safe. • Provide local agencies on aging with the training and materials necessary for them to counsel older drivers.
Older drivers become more crash prone with age, even though they drive less. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, fatal crash rates per mile traveled begin to grow starting at age 70, and increase notably after age 80. This is largely due to a susceptibility to injury and fragility among older drivers. Age-related declines in vision, physical mobility, reaction time, and cognitive impairments may affect some older adults’ driving abilities. After age 70, typical changes include slower information processing in the brain, and therefore a lengthening of the amount of time it takes to make quick decisions on the road. Studies have shown that distractions are more difficult to ignore as people age. The following graph documents the annual number of U.S. deaths of drivers by age per 100 million vehicle miles traveled.
United States Annual Fatalities of Drivers per 100 Million Vehicle Miles Traveled
Older people are more likely to die in crashes that younger people would survive. Over ten years years, the proportion of older drivers involved in fatal crashes increased by 15 percent.
The 43.1 million Americans who were 65 or older in 2012 are 14 percent of the population, 17 percent of traffic fatalities, and 9 percent of all people injured in traffic crashes.
In 2012, 5,560 people 65 and over died and 214,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes. Older people are more likely to die in crashes that younger people would survive.
From 2003 to 2012, the population of those 65 and older increased by 20 percent. The number of licensed older drivers increased by 21 percent, to 35 million licensed older drivers in 2011.
In these 10 years, the proportion of older drivers involved in fatal crashes increased by 15 percent.
Older drivers now make up 16 percent of all licensed drivers and this will increase because the first of the Baby Boomers turned 65 in 2011. The retirement age for Americans has also increased steadily – from 60 in 1996 to 67 in 2012.
Older drivers and passengers are more vulnerable in a crash. At crash speeds of just over 31 mph, the risk of sustaining a serious injury increases dramatically. A 50-year-old female has about a 10-percent risk of a serious injury in a frontal crash, but an 80-year-old female has about a 40-percent risk.
The baby boomers, the largest generation in American history, total 83 million and represent about one-quarter of the U.S. population.Sometimes referred to as a ‘senior tsunami,’ the number of Americans 65 and older, is expected to more than double from 40 million today to 88.5 million by 2050.
In about 15 years, all of the baby boomers will have moved into the ranks of the older population. In just 20 years all baby boomers will be over 70 years of age.
For more on the aging of America, see the U.S. Census Bureau Fact Sheet: