Aging Drivers Won't Trigger "Silver Tsunami" of Crashes, Study Says


  • Aging Driver Study Picture

    Aging Driver Study Picture

    Don't expect the coming wave of older Americans to cause a calamity on U.S. roads, according to a new study. | November 27, 2012

Just the Facts:
  • The worries that the growing percentage of aging drivers will trigger a "silver tsunami" of vehicle crashes is unfounded, according to a new study by the Highway Loss Data Institute.
  • While older drivers will account for a larger percentage of the driving population, there will not be an increase in collision claims, based on predictions by the Institute.
  • "Crashes in which elderly drivers apparently lose control of their vehicles grab headlines," the study said. "But contrary to expectations, older drivers aren't causing more crashes than they used to."

ARLINGTON, Virginia — The worries that the growing percentage of aging drivers will trigger a "silver tsunami" of vehicle crashes is unfounded, according to a new study by the Highway Loss Data Institute.

While older drivers will account for a larger percentage of the driving population, there will not be an increase in collision claims, based on predictions by the Institute.

"Age-related impairments can affect a person's driving, so concern over the country's changing demographic makeup is understandable," said Matt Moore, Highway Loss Data Institute vice president, in a statement. "However, when we look at the overall number of claims, this isn't the looming crisis some have made it out to be."

Institute analysts looked at collision claims if more seniors continue to drive. They increased the rate of insured drivers by 20 percent for people over 65 and found that it didn't change the insurance claim frequency. The study also found that even with a large increase due to aging Baby Boomers, the number of older drivers is predicted to remain relatively small.

"The analysis shows that the growth of the older population won't cause an increase in collision claim rates overall," the study said.

In addition, the increase in the proportion of older drivers "will be accompanied by a decrease in the proportion of drivers under 30, who have the highest claim rates of all," the study said.

Older drivers also tend to police themselves by limiting the amount they drive, especially at night and in other situations they find challenging, researchers note.

"Crashes in which elderly drivers apparently lose control of their vehicles grab headlines," the study said. "But contrary to expectations, older drivers aren't causing more crashes than they used to."

Edmunds says: Despite the positive note sounded by the study, the issue of older drivers will be an ongoing one, including what they should do when they can't drive anymore.

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