Road Injury Prevention Litigation Journal
Road Injury Prevention & Litigation Journal
January, 2001
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Fatality Facts: Elderly

(This article is reproduced, with permission, from the website of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety at http://www.highwaysafety.org.)

Relatively few deaths of elderly people (1 percent or fewer) involve motor vehicles. Cancer, heart disease, and stroke are the leading causes of death among people 65 years and older. Proportionally, fewer elderly people are licensed to drive, compared with those age 20 to 64, and they drive fewer miles per licensed driver.  

On the other hand, there's cause for concern when elderly people do drive because they have higher rates of fatal crashes than all but the youngest drivers, especially per mile driven. A problem is that elderly drivers don't deal as well as younger ones with complex traffic situations, and multiple-vehicle crashes at intersections increase markedly with age. Elderly drivers are more likely to get traffic citations for failing to yield, turning improperly, and running stop signs and red lights. 2

Once they're in crashes, elderly people are more susceptible than younger people to medical complications following motor vehicle crash injuries. This means they're more likely to die from their injuries. The number of elderly people is increasing along with licensure rates and miles driven. This will exacerbate the problem.

The following facts are based on analysis of data from the U.S. Department of Transportation's Fatality Analysis Reporting System:

POPULATION, MILEAGE, AND LICENSURE RATES

CRASH TYPES

GENDER DIFFERENCES

TABLES

MOTOR VEHICLE DEATHS,
PEOPLE 65 YEARS AND OLDER
  Passenger Vehicles Pedestrians Other Total
1975 3,391 1,744 191 5,326
1976 3,556 1,663 175 5,394
1977 3,431 1,779 164 5,374
1978 3,653 1,608 165 5,426
1979 3,480 1,685 180 5,345
1980 3,426 1,728 187 5,341
1981 3,513 1,628 171 5,312
1982 3,388 1,449 168 5,005
1983 3,528 1,388 161 5,077
1984 3,854 1,463 188 5,505
1985 3,961 1,454 157 5,572
1986 4,271 1,430 202 5,903
1987 4,451 1,483 194 6,128
1988 4,771 1,596 185 6,552
1989 4,911 1,467 186 6,564
1990 4,715 1,503 209 6,427
1991 4,897 1,292 175 6,364
1992 4,939 1,272 165 6,376
1993 5,179 1,259 207 6,645
1994 5,485 1,264 197 6,946
1995 5,537 1,263 199 6,999
1996 5,691 1,210 212 7,113
1997 5,954 1,174 280 7,408
1998 5,882 1,176 230 7,288
1999 5,716 1,084 288 7,088

 

MOTOR VEHICLE DEATHS
PER 100,000 PEOPLE, 1999
Age Male Female All
16-19 39 21 30
20-24 41 14 28
25-29 30 10 20
30-34 23 9 16
35-39 21 9 15
40-44 21 9 15
45-49 20 8 14
50-54 19 8 13
55-59 19 9 14
60-64 18 10 14
65-69 21 11 16
70-74 23 14 18
75-79 29 16 22
80-84 42 20 28
>=85 49 16 26

 

PASSENGER VEHICLE DRIVER DEATHS
PER 100,000 LICENSED DRIVERS, 1999
Age Male Female All
16-19 35 17 26
20-24 27 11 20
25-29 17 7 12
30-34 13 6 10
35-39 12 6 9
40-44 12 6 9
45-49 11 5 8
50-54 10 5 8
55-59 11 5 8
60-64 11 6 8
65-69 14 7 10
>=70 24 12 18

 

PERCENT DISTRIBUTION OF PASSENGER
VEHICLE DRIVERS IN FATAL CRASHES BY TYPE, 1999
Age Multiple Vehicle Intersection Single Vehicle All Other
16-19 23 45 32
20-24 22 45 33
25-29 22 41 37
30-34 24 38 38
35-39 25 38 37
40-44 24 36 39
45-49 26 34 40
50-54 27 32 41
55-59 26 33 41
60-64 29 31 40
65-69 33 29 38
70-74 38 26 35
75-79 43 25 32
80-84 48 23 29
>=85 49 20 31

 

PEDESTRIAN DEATHS
PER 100,000 PEOPLE, 1999
Age Male Female All
<13 1 1 1
13-15 1 1 1
16-19 2 1 1
20-24 2 1 2
25-29 3 1 2
30-34 3 1 2
35-39 3 1 2
40-44 3 1 2
45-49 3 1 2
50-54 3 1 2
55-59 3 1 2
60-64 3 1 2
65-69 3 1 2
70-74 4 2 3
75-79 5 2 3
80-84 7 3 4
>=85 8 3 5

REFERENCES

1 Federal Highway Administration. 1997. 1995 Nationwide Personal Transportation Survey. Washington, DC: US Department of Transportation.

2 California Department of Motor Vehicles and Beverly Foundation. 1997. Teen and senior drivers. Sacramento, CA: Department of Motor Vehicles CAL- DMV-97-168.



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