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Published on Mar 01, 2012 by Edgar Snyder

Older Drivers at Higher Risk for Fatal Car Accidents

elderly Pennsylvania driver

There are 1.6 million drivers over the age of 65 in Pennsylvania, comprising 18 percent of all motorists. A recent study, done by nonprofit research organization TRIP, found that these elderly drivers are involved in a disproportionately high percentage of fatal car accidents.

According to the study:

  • Nationwide, older drivers account for 8 percent of all miles driven, yet 17 percent of traffic fatalities involve at least one driver who is at least 65 years old.
  • In Pennsylvania, 1 in 5 fatal crashes involve in older drivers, 3 percent above the national average.
  • Pennsylvania has the fourth highest number of elderly drivers in the United States, a number expected to grow in the coming years.
  • Pennsylvania had the fourth highest number of fatalities in crashes involving older drivers in 2010, with 265.
  • Florida had the highest number of fatalities involving older drivers in 2010, with 503.

The study, titled "Keeping Baby Boomers Mobile: Preserving the Mobility and Safety of Older Americans," recommends a few roadway safety improvements, including:

  • Signs that are brighter and easier to understand with larger lettering
  • Brighter and better maintained street lighting and pavement markings
  • Expanding and updating the current public transit
  • Training and consultation programs for older drivers

Pennsylvania has one such program, Seniors for Safe Driving, that expects to educate 15,000 to 16,000 people this year. It is certified by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, and under state law, participants who are 55 and older qualify for a 5 percent insurance discount.

The state also chooses 1,900 drivers who are 45 or older at random each month to have vision and physical exams. If there are any issues, they may be required to retake the driver's test.

In addition, Pennsylvania has a limited license policy for people with 20/70 to 20/100 vision that allows driving only during daylight and not on freeways. Under the policy, doctors must report patients who are unfit to drive.

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“Study Finds Higher Fatality Rate Among Older Drivers” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. February 22, 2012.
"Older Drivers in More Fatal Accidents." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. February 23, 2012.
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