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Study Determines that Accident and Fatality Rates Rise as Drivers Age

A new study by TRIP, a national transportation research group, has examined senior accident and fatality rates across the country and ultimately determined that these rates increase as drivers age and that senior drivers will make up an increasing proportion of drivers as baby boomers age.

The TRIP study analyzed senior driving statistics from all 50 states. It noted that the 34 million drivers aged 65 or older make up about 16 percent of all licensed drivers. Illinois has the seventh largest population of senior drivers in the nation, totaling almost 1.3 million licensed motorists. Nationally, senior drivers account for eight percent of all miles driven in the country, but are involved in 17 percent of all motor vehicle accidents that cause a fatality.

More Seniors are Remaining on the Road

TRIP researchers also acknowledged the difference between baby boomer drivers, who are just now turning 65, and their elderly parents. While 65-year-old baby boomers intend to use their cars and remain independent, at age 65 their parents were more likely to hang up the keys and depend on family and friends to help them get around. This difference makes it imperative to incorporate additional safety measures into road construction and license requirements to ensure that all road users are safe as the senior driving population ages and increases in number.

Improving Safety for All

TRIP researchers recommend a variety of changes to roadways and licensing renewal processes to ensure senior drivers continue to be safe drivers. Brighter lighting, larger and simpler signage, wider left turn lanes, longer merge lanes and rumble strips along roads help all drivers stay safe. Improved evaluation of senior drivers' vision and reaction times should be incorporated in license renewals and better public transportation options should be developed, according to the study.

Right now, Florida, Pennsylvania and Tennessee have senior driving task forces dedicated to improving senior driving safety. Illinois has made an attempt to address the unique needs of senior drivers through the voluntary Super Seniors driving program, which offers rules of the road class instruction and vision screening for senior drivers. However, the state should also consider implementing some of the recommendations TRIP makes to improve physical road safety and usability overall.

The baby boomers have begun to contribute to a boom in the senior driving population and measures should be taken to ensure their transition to senior driving is safe. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident involving a senior driver, please contact an experienced personal injury attorney to explore your legal options.

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