Today, approximately 30 million drivers in the United States are 65 or older. By 2030, that number will nearly double to 57 million, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office.
With the graying of American drivers, you might anticipate more auto crashes and insurance claims that could drive up rates for all drivers. But according to a recent study from the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI), you’d be wrong. Here’s why:
Older Drivers’ Crash Rates are Falling
Although drivers aged 70 and up are responsible for more traffic accidents than middle-aged drivers, their accident rates have been falling substantially over the past 15 years. Licensed drivers 70 and older were involved in 37 percent fewer fatal crashes in 2008 than in 1997, a 2010 study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) showed, thanks in part to safety education and better health among older drivers.
Fewer Young People are Driving
While older folks have a crash risk that’s above average, it’s nothing compared to the crash risk associated with younger drivers,” says Matt Moore, vice president of the HLDI.
But these days, fewer young people are getting behind the wheel. In 1983, 46 percent of 16-year-olds were licensed to drive; by 2010, that rate had fallen to 28 percent. Why the huge drop? According to a University of Michigan study, many teens don’t want or can’t afford to own a vehicle and would rather rely on public transportation. Additionally, today’s teens can easily communicate online, reducing the need for in-person socializing. Whatever the reason, the result is fewer inexperienced teen drivers on the road, and fewer traffic accidents.
The HLDI estimates that over the next 20 years, accident claim rates will remain essentially flat. Thanks to better education, new technology and changing driver demographics, the roads are getting safer, so you’re not likely to count insurance hikes the way you might count gray hairs.
Visit geico.com to see how drivers 50 and older could save with GEICO.
When did you start driving, and what was your first car? Tell us about it in the comments.
By Kathryn Hawkins