Reasons Why Teenagers and Older People Are the Riskiest Drivers
Consumer Reports magazine: October 2012
They stand at opposite ends of the demographic spectrum. And both groups include many good drivers. But statistics show that overall, teenagers and older drivers are involved in far more crashes and highway fatalities than any other age group.
Mile for mile, the crash rate for drivers ages 16 and 17, for example, is almost nine times as high as that for middle-aged drivers. People 80 and older are involved in 5.5 times as many fatal crashes per mile driven as middle-aged drivers.
Total deaths for teens and seniors have declined in recent years, as have all passenger-vehicle fatalities. But their risk level remains high and the challenge could become greater in coming years.
The Pew Research Center says that 10,000 baby boomers will turn 65 every day for the next 18 years. By 2030, they’ll represent almost one in five drivers. In the population overall they’ll outnumber 16- to 19-year-olds more than three to one. Some experts call that trend the silver tsunami.
That could increase the safety risk as drivers begin to lose their abilities. “Unfortunately I think most states are woefully unprepared for the coming wave of baby boomers,” says David W. Eby, Ph.D., research scientist at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.
For young and old drivers, the reasons behind the risk are as different as the people themselves. Teens struggle with inexperience behind the wheel and developing brains that might not accurately assess risks. Older drivers have plenty of experience and even tend to drive less. But age-related conditions can impede their driving ability. And when a crash happens, their fragility leads to more severe outcomes.
“If we’re ever going to solve the aging mobility problem, we need to have better alternatives for people,” Eby says. “It can’t always fall to the personal vehicle.”
Effective steps are being taken by the government, automakers, and families to reduce accidents and deaths among teens and seniors. But more needs to be done.
Full Article here