It has become a common belief that the growing number of elderly drivers means that older drivers will be involved in a larger proportion of fatal auto accidents than middle-aged drivers. In accordance with this, auto insurance companies charge older drivers more for their coverage since they are considered a higher risk.
However, a study recently released by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety erodes that notion a bit. According to the study, seniors’ greater amount of life experience is being put to use and is resulting in fewer fatal accidents.
The study, released in June, showed that the total number of fatal accidents involving drivers over the age of 70 dropped 37 percent between 1997 and 2008, reports the IIHS. That is compared to a 23-percent drop in the same time period for drivers between the ages of 35 and 40.
USA Today notes that the data should be of particular interest to auto insurance companies since older drivers tend to have more money and drive vehicles that are more expensive to insure.
“The stats are running counter to what most researchers thought would happen,” IIHS spokesman Russ Rader said, according to USA Today. “Ten years ago, we predicted we were going to have a problem with the elderly and automobile crashes, and we are seeing the opposite occur.”
AARP said in a statement that they were glad there is hard data available to debunk the myth about older drivers and also noted that age on it’s own isn’t the only factor causing accidents.