In the past 40 years, cars have undergone remarkable changes. While the basic act of driving (turn the wheel, push the pedals) is largely the same, the technology in cars has evolved dramatically since most seniors learned to drive. Everything from the powertrain to safety systems and entertainment systems on cars has changed. Staying up-to-date on the latest automotive technology, driving skills and laws that affect older drivers is one of the best ways to stay safe behind the wheel.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates that about 10 percent of today’s drivers are over 70 years old. In a February 2012 study, TRIP, a national research organization, said projections show that by 2025, one in every five drivers will be 65 or older. Because aging is often associated with a decrease in vision and an increase in reaction time, having so many older drivers on the road can seem like an unsafe proposition, but that’s not necessarily true. IIHS reports that the fatality rate of drivers over 70 from car crashes has dropped 45 percent since 1975. It’s now at the lowest level since data collection began. Since seniors generally don’t have to commute to work or school, they drive fewer miles per year and also tend to drive more on city streets, where crashes may be less severe.
That doesn’t mean that as an older driver, you have nothing to worry about, however. Data from car insurance companies shows that insurance claims from drivers start to increase at about age 65. IIHS reports that older drivers are more likely than younger drivers to be involved in accidents at intersections and while merging. In many of those claims, the older driver is at fault. Additionally, while older drivers have one of the lower rates of crashes overall, as miles traveled increases, their crash rate starts to increase.
In this Seniors’ Series Guide, we will be discussing various topics that affect seniors on the road today. You can look forward to the following posts. Feel free to add your own discussion points in the comments section of each as they are published.
As car technology has changed, some of what you learned in driver’s education no longer applies. Today’s cars have more safety equipment than ever before. That has helped keep all drivers safer, but the safety equipment works best when it can work with the driver. More crowded roads and 40 years of research have also changed the best practices for safe driving. By learning the new rules for safe driving, you can keep your skills sharp and make your driving safer.
As we age, our bodies change. Sometimes, the changes are just an annoyance, but when it comes to driving, changes in physical abilities make a big difference. Older drivers need to know how to recognize and deal with changes in their vision and reaction time. Staying on top of your physical changes and taking them into account when hitting the road helps you recognize your limits and stay safe.
The Ford Mustang you had in high school may still tug at your heart, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best car for your lifestyle now. AARP estimates that 44 million Americans are currently taking care of a family member. For many drivers, that means taking care of an aging parent, spouse or adult child. Taking care of grandchildren is also increasingly common. Having the right car with the right features makes being a caregiver a lot easier.
The rules for having kids in cars have changed since many of today’s older drivers had little ones in the back seat. If you’re planning on hitting the road with your grandkids, here’s what you need to know to keep them safe.
It’s sad that, eventually, most of us are going to have to stop driving. It’s important to know how to recognize when it’s time for us or someone we know to get out of the driver’s seat and what resources your state may have to help with the process. Having a conversation about giving up the keys is tough, but when it comes to staying safe on the road, a tough conversation may be necessary.