Are most older drivers capable of safely operating a motor vehicle?
Yes. Some older adults do have visual, motor, or cognitive impairments that make them dangerous drivers. Many drive more slowly and cautiously or avoid driving in conditions they consider threatening in order to compensate for these changes. Until approximately age 85, older adults have fewer driver fatalities per million drivers than men 20 years old, but they do have more accidents per miles driven. Unsafe speed and alcohol use are leading factors in accidents for young drivers, while right-of-way violations are the leading cause of accidents involving older drivers--which implies a breakdown in such cognitive-perceptual components as estimating the speed of oncoming cars or reacting too slowly to unexpected events. Older drivers' skills can be improved considerably by specific driver training such as through the AARP "55 ALIVE/Mature Driving" program.
Linda Breytspraak, Center on Aging Studies, University of Missouri-Kansas City
Last update: Monday, July 07, 2008