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Older drivers and safety data, part 2: fatal accidents

In the first part of this post, we began discussing the issue of older drivers.

As we noted, the concern about a demographic time-bomb of older drivers creating a constant "gray menace" on the roads has been to some extent alleviated. Cars are more crashworthy now they used to be and today's seniors are generally in better health than their generational predecessors.

But the issue of older drivers and the risk of car accidents is still an important one. In this part of the post, we will try to better define what is really meant by "older driver" in this context.

In the recent study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), middle-age drivers were considered to be those from ages 35 to 54. One definition of "older drivers," then, would be those 55 and older.

But the IIHS study compared drivers 70 and older to the middle-age group.

The study found that fatal crash rates - both per driver and per miles driven - have declined more for older drivers than for middle-age drivers.

Overall, fatal car crash rates have been going down for many years. But in Connecticut and across the country, there are still lots of car accident injuries and deaths.

Federal data show there were 236 traffic fatalities in Connecticut in 2012. This was up from 221 in 2011, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Nationally, the number of traffic fatalities in 2012 was 33, 561. This number, too, was up from 2011.

In short, even though older drivers may not pose the menace that was once feared, fatal car accidents remain a major problem in Connecticut and across the nation.

Source: Insurance Journal, "Grandpa and Grandma Much Safer Behind the Wheel Than Predicted," Joan Lowy, Feb. 25, 2014

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