Home Menu Search

Older Drivers are the Safest

18 January 2010

Drivers over 70 are no more likely to cause crashes than any other driver, and are considerably safer than younger drivers, according to a report published today by the RoadSafe member IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists).

Older people rely heavily on their cars, and the ability to drive gives many older people better mobility and access to more activities. Men in their seventies make more trips as car drivers than men in their late teens and 20s.

The full report is now available here its shows that thirty years ago, only one in three men and one in 20 women aged over 70 held a driving licence; today, three in four men and one in three women are licensed to drive. In the next twenty years, the number of male drivers over 70 will double, and that of female drivers will treble. It illustrates that older drivers are not unsafe; they are safer than most other age groups.

This report shows that older drivers are safer than young drivers. Eight per cent of drivers are over 70, yet they are involved in around four per cent of injury crashes. In contrast, the 15 per cent of drivers who are in their teens and twenties are involved in 34 per cent of injury crashes.However, age-related decline in mental and physical abilities, coupled with age-related frailty, can make older drivers more likely to be involved in a crash – and more vulnerable to serious injuries. This analysis can find no particular age at which an older driver’s functioning and skills suddenly deteriorate to the point at which driving becomes too difficult or unsafe.

Three key influences on older driver safety; - The study has identified three significant factors that influence the safety of older drivers, for better or for worse:

Self regulation – Older drivers tend to adapt their driving patterns, either through lifestyle changes, or by reducing or avoiding driving in situations in which they are uncomfortable. Compared with drivers in their 50s, older drivers have a smaller proportion of serious crashes in peak traffic periods, in the dark, when it is wet, and on motorways.

Safer driving style – Many drivers harness their experience to develop a more defensive and cautious attitude to their driving as they grow older because they are aware that their skills and driving abilities may not be as good as they once were. Older drivers have a smaller proportion of crashes on bends and while overtaking than drivers in their 50s. At junctions on 20/30mph roads, their safety performance is about the same as that of drivers in their 50s. However, on higher speed roads it is much worse.

Driving errors – Despite restricting their driving and adopting a safer driving style, older drivers are more prone to making driving errors that can lead to a crash. This is particularly evident at junctions on 60mph and 70mph roads – and in single-vehicle collisions when no other vehicle is involved

RoadSafe will be working with IAM to widen the debate and recommend that Government develop a sound strategy for supporting older road users to ensure their mobility without compromising safety.

Related news, events and information

Can older drivers be nudged?

8 February 2011 – That's the question posed by the latest report from the RAC Foundation, which asks how older drivers can be...

Rural 40 limit speed limit

1 August 2006 – Road safety group, the Association of British Drivers, has suggested a new survey from insurers Direct Line...

Experience counts in the drive for safer roads

29 November 2012 – Older drivers are as safe as drivers from all other age groups, according to research published by the IAM...

Ford announces new nationwide training for young drivers

25 June 2013 – Ford has announced the introduction of its globally successful Ford Driving Skills for Life programme in the...

New report confirms young driver risk

20 July 2012 – Key findings of a report, 'Young Drivers at Risk', issued by the AA Charitable Trust and the Make Roads Safe...

IAM reveals worrying extent of mobile phone use by drivers

24 July 2015 – Story from the IAM. The findings come from research commissioned this month exclusively by RoadSafe partner...

Mobile phone and seat belt usage report published

25 February 2015 – The Transport Research Laboratory concluded its mobile phone survey research in November 2014. The surveys were...

Research reveals speed cameras really do catch bad drivers

1 May 2006 – A research project conducted in the Midlands reveal s that the more times you have been caught by a speed...

Children the key to safer driving

1 June 2006 – They suffer from sleepless nights, constant interruptions and mounting stress levels - but parents are among...