Over the past 40 years, an interesting transition has been taking place on American roads, namely the composition of drivers and the mix of their ages. In 1983, half of all drivers on the road were under the age of 40. Now drivers under 40 make up less than 40 percent of all on the road.
During the same period of time, the number of drivers under the age of 30 has experienced a similar precipitous drop. If we traveled back to 1983, wed find that approximately 33 percent of all drivers were under 30. Now they dont even make up a quarter of drivers, coming in at just 22 percent.
Both of these declines indicate a significant increase in older drivers.
Why Are Drivers Getting Older
There are a number of reasons the average age of an American driver has been increasing over the past few decades. First, the baby boomer generation, which is comprised people born in the post-World War II baby boom from 1946 to 1964, makes up a significant portion of the total population. 76 million children were born in the United States during that period.
Many baby boomers have reached retirement age. That means even the youngest drivers in this group are closer to 50 years old than 40. And the sheer numbers of them ensure theyll have an impact for many years to come.
Secondly, the advances in healthcare, which started in the 1930s and see us now with sophisticated, high-technology diagnostics, has greatly improved the average longevity of Americans. Not only are we living longer, but more of us dont fall victim to diagnoses that just a few decades ago would have been fatal. We live longer, and more of us are staying alive, too.
But it isnt just the aging population that effected such a demographic shift. There are a couple of identifiable trends with younger drivers that are also proving to be significant as well.
Graduated drivers licenses are now in place in most of individual states since being introduced in the 1970s. GLDs are an attempt to reduce the dangers posed by young, new drivers by placing restrictions on them.
Thus far, while they have reduced the fatal collisions that 16 and 17-year-olds are responsible for, they also seem to have shifted many of those fatal crashes to drivers that are 18 years of age and older.
And finally, many teenagers simply choose not to drive and even pass on getting their own automobiles. That means theyre not getting their drivers license. A recent survey saw 49 percent of teens saying theyd rather have an Apple iPad or a computer rather than a car.
So, Are Seniors Dangerous Drivers?
The answer to that question depends upon what other group of drivers youre comparing them with. It is true that with age, especially at 65 years or older, the chances of an accident increase. And once a driver reaches the age of 75, their chance of being a fatality in an accident greatly increases.
The physical changes that come with age, such as declines in vision, stamina, strength and quickness, impact a senior drivers performance. Yet many older drivers employ compensation techniques to help make up for these physical issues. For example, they may stop driving after dark, and avoid being out in bad weather.
Taken together, it would appear that senior drivers are more dangerous than those just hitting middle age, such as drivers in their 40s. But despite displaying increased risk compared to that set of younger drivers, we think another comparison is valid to make as well.
If we compare senior drivers to those who are in their teenaged years or early 20s, the reverse is true. A senior driver is far less likely to be involved in any sort of accident than these younger drivers.
As you might guess, senior drivers will see increases in their car insurance premiums, but theyll be nowhere near what teen drivers pay. And seniors can take advantage of a number of discounts, such as being retired, low annual milage, and more.