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IIHS researchers make major discovery concerning older drivers

One of the unfortunate realities for those people with older parents is that there will more than likely come a time when they have to sit down to have a frank and perhaps difficult discussion about driving.

Specifically, they may have to talk about whether it's time for their parents to forfeit their license and hand over their keys as they are at an elevated risk of being involved in a serious car accident thanks to their diminished driving skills.

However, a recently released study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reveals that people with older parents may actually be able to put off this conversation for longer than they originally anticipated.

According to the IIHS study, elderly drivers -- those age 70 and over -- are now less likely to be injured, killed or even involved in any type of motor vehicle accident when compared with younger generations.

Breaking the numbers down, the IIHS found the following:

  • In 1997, drivers age 70 and above were 3.5 times more likely to be involved in a fatal motor vehicle accident than middle-aged drivers (age 35 to 54); In 2008, however, these drivers were 3.2 times more likely to be involved in a fatal motor vehicle accident than middle-aged drivers.
  • In 1997, drivers age 80 and above were 5.4 times more likely to be involved in a fatal motor vehicle accident than middle-aged drivers; In 2008, however, these drivers were 4.3 times more likely to be involved in a fatal motor vehicle accident than middle-aged drivers.

What exactly is behind these figures?

IIHS researchers believe the rather surprising numbers can be attributed to better overall health among this generation of seniors and altogether safer vehicles built to comply with more exacting federal standards.

The researchers also point out the study should help alleviate concerns about the fact that U.S. Census Bureau estimates show that America's population of elderly people is poised to explode over the coming years.

"This should help ease fears that aging baby boomers are a safety threat," said the IIHS' senior vice president for research in a released statement. "Even crashes among the oldest drivers have been on a downswing."

What are your thoughts on this study? Are you encouraged by the findings or still convinced that America's roads will become considerably more unsafe over the next few decades?

Remember if you have lost a loved one in a pedestrian accident or fatal motor vehicle accident, consider speaking with an experienced attorney to learn more about your options.

Source: The Detroit News, "Study: Elderly drivers less likely to be involved in automobile accidents," Karl Henkel, Feb. 20, 2014

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