On average, Americans are living longer than ever, including here in northern Virginia. The Baby Boom generation is now mostly in their 60s and 70s. As the number of senior citizens with driver’s licenses continues to grow, experts used to predict that fatal car accidents among older drivers would surge.
But the opposite has ended up happening. According to AARP, the number of fatal crashes per driver over age 70 dropped by 43 percent from 1997 to 2018. And in 2017, over-70 drivers had fewer traffic collisions per mile than middle-aged motorists, according to police reports.
Why are deadly accidents among seniors going down?
For one thing, seniors are living healthier as well as longer. AARP notes that better physical fitness and health among Americans in their 70s compared to past generations is likely one reason for the drop in fatal crashes. By maintaining relatively good strength, flexibility, vision and mental acuity, drivers in their 70s are safer now than their parents and grandparents were.
Plus, improvements in safety technology help. Things like rear-view cameras, airbags and other equipment reduce the risk of accidents for drivers of all ages — including seniors.
Finally, experience behind the wheel counts. Most older Americans have been driving for decades. They tend to be more cautious and defensive than young drivers in their teens and 20s. The more careful a driver is, the less likely they are to cause a dangerous wreck.
What a family can do after a deadly car wreck
It is encouraging to hear that older drivers are causing fewer fatalities in car accidents these days. But deadly injuries in motor vehicle accidents still happen all the time in northern Virginia. Often, such tragedies would not have happened but for a negligent driver. The job of a personal injury attorney in these cases is to help the victim’s family seek fair compensation.