Godwin, Morris, Laurenzi & Bloomfield, P.C.

Is the new conclusion about elderly drivers reliable?

Many of our Memphis readers may have already seen or heard about the study grabbing national attention this month regarding elderly drivers and their perceived safety behind the wheel. For several decades, researchers have believed that accidents caused by elderly drivers would increase as the Baby Boomer generation continued to age. But a new study seems to suggest that this might not be true, even going so far as to say that aging Baby Boomers are less of a safety threat than we thought.

But how reliable is this conclusion? We encourage our readers to take a second look at the data that is being reported by media outlets across the nation and make a conclusion for yourself.

According to the study, which was released by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, traffic fatalities are in decline across the United States and markedly among elderly drivers. Results indicate that fatal crash rates fell 39 percent between 1997 and 2012 for older drivers as compared to 26 percent for middle-age drivers between 1995 and 2008.

This might seem like a good thing, right? And if it is, then why might it raise concerns for some of our readers?

It might raise concerns because the study does not indicate the number of injuries that were suffered in accidents caused by elderly drivers. We’ve all heard stories about a pedestrian getting injured because an elderly driver backed into them or a serious crash because an elderly driver was travelling down the wrong side of the road. But these injuries are not brought up by the study, begging the question: should we really discount the idea that elderly drivers pose a safety problem?

It’s something like this that we hope our readers will consider in the days to come.

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

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