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Aging Drivers Should Not Be A Problem According to Study

A recent report from the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) claims that the U.S. baby boomer population will not cause a dangerous increase in insurance claims and crash rates as they grow older and continue to drive. Safety experts have been concerned that the “silver tsunami” could present new dangers on the nations roads.

According to the report, the total number of licensed drivers 70 years and above has ballooned by roughly four million between 1997 and 2010. The fact that collision losses begin to increase around the age of 65 has led to concerns that these aging drivers could have an impact on traffic safety. 

In the latest HLDI newsletter Vice President Matt Moore said “Age-related impairments can affect driving, so concerns about the changing U.S. demographic makeup is understandable, but looking at the overall number of claims, this isn’t the looming crisis some make it out to be.” 

The study found that even though drivers between the ages of 70 and 80 will start filing claims at higher rates, this increase in the total number of older drivers will happen as a shrinking proportion of drivers under the age of 30 hit the roads. This group tends to have the highest claim rates.

The Institute found that drivers aged 15 to 19 have by far the highest rate of claims for collisions. It is almost 70 percent higher than the average rate. Teen rates are the highest for all motorists and older drivers never return to the crash rates of teens. Claim rates are at their lowest when drivers are between 50 and 69 and start rising again when drivers turn 70. Despite the rise, collision rates never hit the levels of teen drivers, even amongst 85-year old drivers. 

If the claim frequency rates stay the same, the HLDI report predicts that the growing population of older drivers will have no real effect on collision claim rates over the next 20 years. While the Institute admits that there still may be more crashes in the coming years, it will be because there will be more people driving, and will have nothing to do with the fact that there are more older drivers on the road.

Even when they took the scenario to the extremes, assuming that 99 percent of people older than 75 will continue to drive and be insured, the report found that claim rates would only jump by 2 percent.

The Institute also took a look at traffic fatality rates for drivers that are older. They found that in 2010 older drivers were involved in 17 percent of traffic fatalities according to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Those rates seem to be dropping, a HLDI study in 2010 found that fatality rates for drivers who were 70 years old and above dropped 37 percent between 1997 and 2008. They concluded that the drop in accident rates was due to the fact that older drivers were making better decisions both on the road and before they get on the road. Many older drivers were limiting the driving they did at night and during other challenging situations.  Improved heath and physical conditioning may also be responsible for improved crash rates.

A recent study by the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) found that the aging baby boomer generation should have little to no effect on collision claim rates.