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Older drivers not more dangerous

A potential concern for highway safety, both in Hawaii and across the U.S. is the aging of the baby boom. As the demographic bubble of the baby boomers moves from middle-aged to senior status, the risk of car accidents potentially increases. And that risk threatens both their safety and that of other drivers.

The cost of car accidents is immense, between the immediate property damage and the physical injuries that motorist suffer, motor vehicle accidents cost the U.S. billions of dollars every year. The fear had been that with an aging baby boom, we would see a significant spike in car accidents. 

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), that has not happened. They attribute this to safer vehicles, which better protect occupants in crashes and to healthier older drivers.

While highway fatalities have fallen to levels equivalent to those of the late 1940s, since the late 1990s, the decline has been even greater for drivers age 70 and older, falling 42 percent as compared to 30 percent for drivers age 35-54.

This is good news, as we all are getting older every day. It is good for society, as it means fewer accidents, fewer injuries and lower health care costs. A co-author of the study noted that, "This should help ease fears that aging baby boomers are a safety threat."

Given the importance of motor vehicles for transportation throughout the nation, it is encouraging to see that older drivers can continue to safely operate vehicles, as they grow older.

It also demonstrates the value of improved vehicle safety features, which save lives and lower costs in a car accident.

Source: Westhawaiitoday.com, "Accident rates improving for older drivers," Joan Lowy, The Associated Press, February 21, 2014

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