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Epidemiology of the Older Driver-Some Preliminary Findings From Data Through 1996
Published May 31, 1998 by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in United States
Although there is an ever-increasing literature on older drivers, there is not available a comprehensive up-to-date epidemiologic presentation of the salient characteristics of how older drivers are impacted by traffic safety, and how they impact road safety for others. This paper presents preliminary results for such an undertaking, using data through 1996. The approach is to examine how many different measures (fatalities, fatalities per licensed driver, etc.) depend on age and gender. Risks drivers pose to other road users are estimated by driver involvement in pedestrian fatality crashes. It is found that renewing the license of a 70-year-old male driver for another year poses, on average, 40% less risk to other road users than renewing the license of a 40-year-old male driver. The fatality risks drivers themselves face generally increase as they age, with the increased risk of death in the same severity crash being a major contributor. If this factor is removed, crash risk for 70-year-old male drivers are not materially higher than for 40- year-old male drivers; for female drivers they are. For all drivers most risk measures increase substantially by age 80, in many cases to values higher than those for 20 year olds. Given that a death occurs, the probability that it is a traffic fatality declines steeply with age, from well over 20% for late teens through mid twenties, to under one percent at age 65, and under half of percent at age 80.