Although there are more elderly drivers on the road compared to prior years, the rate of fatal crashes among the elderly is declining according to an IIHS study. In 2010, 84 percent of Americans that were 65 or older had a driver’s license.
In the 1970s, less than half of the population 65 and older had a drivers license. But what accounts for the increase in elderly drivers? The answer is improved modern medications. These medicines are keeping the elderly healthy enough to drive. In fact, 90 percent of elderly drivers use prescription medications. The elderly are also staying in the workforce longer, making driving a necessity for them. Twenty-five percent of men over the age of 65 and 18 percent of women over the age of 65 are still working.
As baby boomers age, the number of older drivers on the road will continue to grow. The IIHS expects the number of Americans 70 years of age or older to grow from 9 percent of the population to 16 percent of the population within the next 35 years. This phenomenon has been referred to as the “silver tsunami.”
To some, this may be concerning given that the older population has a reputation for being dangerous drivers. Although it is true that crash rates rise after the age of 70, the number of fatal accidents has dramatically decreased. Between 1997 and 2012, the number of drivers age 70 or older fell by 42 percent. This decline can be attributed to improved safety technologies in vehicles as well as a healthier senior population.