Fatal accident rates for older drivers are declining

The Connecticut Department of Transportation reports that the percentage of drivers aged 70 and older is higher in Connecticut (14.9 percent) than for the U.S. as a whole (10.6 percent). As baby boomers get older the number of drivers age 70 and older will steadily increase. Fortunately, since 1997, drivers who are 70 or older are less likely to be involved in fatal crashes than other age groups.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, prior research had indicated concern that fatal motor vehicle accidents involving the elderly would increase dramatically as the nation's baby boomers significantly swelled the ranks of older drivers. These concerns have apparently been proven wrong since fatal crash rates for older drivers actually have decreased 42 percent from 1997 to 2012.

The National Conference of State Legislatures notes that older drivers are considered to be safer drivers since they tend to use their seat belts, rarely speed, and are least likely to drive while impaired. Furthermore, older drivers tend to limit their driving at night and when the weather is inclement. Moreover, vehicles are getting safer and seniors are getting healthier and with better access to emergency services and health care.

Of course, age-related declines in vision, hearing and cognitive abilities may adversely affect the ability of a particular older individual to drive safely. Moreover, medical conditions and the general frailty that comes with old age may make it more difficult for older drivers to recover from crash related injuries.

By contrast with older drivers, teenage drivers are all too frequently involved in highway accidents. The National Conference of State Legislatures finds that teens are more likely than mature adults to engage in risky behavior such as speeding, running red lights, and driving under the influence. For example, 26 percent of drivers between the ages of 15 and 20 who were killed in crashes in 2011 had a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher. The State of Connecticut's Highway Safety Plan includes data which unfortunately indicates that teenage drivers have a much higher rate of involvement in fatal crashes than older drivers.

Connecticut continues to strive to make highways safer

The Highway Safety Plan makes it clear that Connecticut will continue to work toward making teens safer drivers by partnering with national and local groups who support educational and other safety initiatives aimed at the young driver. Additionally, efforts will be made to educate parents about teen safety issues. Finally, Connecticut authorities will attempt to identify safety issues unique to older drivers given that they are a growing segment of the driving population.

In general, and without regard to the age of drivers, the Connecticut Department of Transportation intends to step up its efforts to reduce alcohol related injuries and fatalities through vigorous law enforcement efforts. As stated in the Highway Safety Plan: "combined impaired driving and safety belt enforcement efforts are planned to effectively target these unsafe behaviors."

Pursuing an action for injuries resulting from vehicular accidents

While the data shows that teenagers too frequently engage in risky driving behavior, a driver of any age category may operate his or her vehicle in a manner which disregards the safety of other motorists and their passengers. If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of the negligence of a motorist, you should contact a personal injury attorney who specializes in motor vehicle accidents. An experienced personal injury attorney can investigate the facts and help you hold accountable the person responsible for your injuries and loss.