The crash involving a 100-year-old driver who injured schoolchildren in Los Angeles days ago drew national attention to the issue of aging drivers on the road.
While the nationally publicized incident raises public concerns about senior drivers, AAA says it is a myth that seniors are among the nation’s most dangerous. Instead, AAA's Jake Nelson said just the opposite is true.
“Recent data tells us that drivers in their 70s get into about the same number of crashes per mile driven as do drivers in their 30s,” said Nelson, who is AAA’s director of Traffic Safety Advocacy and Research. “On average, drivers in their mid- to late-80s still have lower crash rates per mile driven than drivers in their early 20s, and roughly half the crash rates of teenagers — the nation’s riskiest drivers.”
But AAA notes that with 10,000 Americans a day turning 65, an increasing number of families are faced with the challenge of balancing safety and mobility for older loved ones.
In Los Angeles, a 100-year-old man named Preston Carter injured 14 people, including 11 schoolchildren, after driving onto the sidewalk after backing out of a nearby parking lot, according to the Associated Press.
Carter's daughter, Rose Jenkins, told NBC Los Angeles, "I think this is a wakeup call and I don't think he'll be driving any more."
“The driver’s daughter Ms. Jenkins was right that this crash was a ‘wakeup call.’ We know from research that families don’t know where to turn for help or how to get the conversation started,” said Nelson. “AAA urges families to prepare now, before they get their own wakeup call.”
Nelson said a national AAA survey shows 80 percent of senior drivers “self-police” their driving by voluntarily avoiding one or more higher-risk driving situations like driving at night or during rush-hour times of day. AAA has also found that age, on its own, is not what leads to a loss of driving skills. Instead, medical conditions that come with aging — which can affect drivers as early as in their 40s — are what commonly reduce driving ability.
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