Road Management & Engineering Journal
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National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Publishes 1997 Statistics on Older
Highlighting the reality of fatality statistics for older drivers, a National Highway Traffic
Safety Administration (NHTSA) publication reported, "In 1997, older people made up 9
percent of the resident population but accounted for 14 percent of all traffic fatalities
and 17 percent of all pedestrian fatalities." NHTSA summarized 1997 highway
statistics for older drivers in "Traffic Safety Facts 1997: Older Population" (DOT HS 808
769). The publication reported that:
- In 1997, more than 24 million people in the United States were over 70 years of
- Representing 9 percent of the population in 1997, the 70-and-older age group
grew 2.1 times faster from 1987 to 1997 than the total population.
- In 1986 older drivers were 7 percent of licensed drivers; in 1996 they were 19
percent of licensed drivers.
- Of traffic fatalities involving older drivers, 82 percent happened in the daytime,
71 percent occurred on weekdays, and 75 percent involved a second vehicle.
- When a crash involved an older driver and a younger driver, the older driver was
3 times as likely as the younger driver to be the one struck. Moreover, 28
percent of crash-involved older drivers were turning left when they were struck--
7 times more often than younger drivers were struck while making left turns.
- Older drivers involved in fatal crashes and fatally injured older pedestrians
claimed the lowest proportion of intoxication--defined as a blood alcohol
concentration of 0.10 grams per deciliter or higher.
- While only 55 percent of adult vehicle occupants (ages 18 to 69) involved in
fatal crashes were using restraints at the time of the crash, 70 percent of fatal-
crash-involved older occupants were using restraints.
- "On the basis of estimated annual travel, the fatality rate for drivers 85 and over
is nine times as high as the rate for drivers 25 through 69 years old."
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