Since vehicles made their way onto roads, people have been getting in accidents. Even with improved drivers and safety protocols, car crashes are still a leading cause of death in the United States. However, car accidents are not caused equally by all age groups. Instead, some age groups disproportionately cause car crashes.
Several studies have found that younger and older drivers are more likely to cause car accidents. Conversely, middle-aged people are less likely to cause car accidents. These studies have found that the reasons for increased risk stem from age-associated mechanisms and more dangerous driving behaviors.
Increased Car Accident Risk in Younger Drivers
It is a tragedy whenever a young person dies, and car accidents are the top cause of death for young people around the world. Studies have shown that young drivers are more likely to cause a crash than older drivers. The most significant reasons for this are their inexperience and young age.
Specifically, the younger the driver, the more likely they are to cause a car crash. Notably, 16 and 17-year-old drivers have a high risk of causing car accidents. The risk of a crash is also very high among drivers that received their driver’s license within the last year. Here are some of the most significant risk factors for young drivers:
- Young drivers are more likely to drive at high and inappropriate speeds.
- Overconfidence is common in young drivers. This trait can lead to thrill-seeking, which in turn can cause car crashes.
- Young people are less likely to own a car, and as a result, they are more likely to borrow vehicles. Unfamiliarity with a vehicle has been shown to increase the likelihood of crashes.
- Young people are more likely to drink and drive, which is a leading cause of car accidents. Additionally, their lower tolerance to alcohol means that when they do drink and drive, they have less control than older drivers.
Finally, it is important to note that car accidents related to alcohol drop significantly at age 25. Teenagers are most likely to crash while under the influence. Studies show that teenagers are three times as likely to cause a crash while under the influence than drivers aged 25 and up for each blood alcohol concentration level.
Increased Risk of Car Accidents in Older Drivers
While younger drivers are more likely to get into crashes because of behavioral characteristics, older drivers’ elevated risk comes from their decreased ability to handle driving complexities. Here are a few of the significant risk factors for old drivers:
- Older drivers have slower reaction times than their younger counterparts. That factor combined with age-related fragility can lead to a higher rate of crashes.
- A loss of physiological abilities has also been found to result in an increased number of crashes in older drivers.
- Age-related conditions such as dementia results in more crashes. Although drivers are not supposed to keep their licenses when they have these conditions, family members are unlikely to take away their licenses.
- Furthermore, hearing loss and worsening vision significantly contribute to an increased rate of car crashes in older drivers.
- Although older drivers are less likely to drive while under the influence of alcohol, they do have a high rate of DUI incidents. However, their DUI incidents usually involve illegal or prescription drugs.
Don’t Get Fooled by Basic Statistics
When you look at statistics for the number of car accidents among each age group, you will notice that younger drivers have fewer crashes than middle-aged drivers.
While this is true, the stats are deceptive. The reason for this is that there are fewer younger drivers than drivers in other age groups. 16 to 19-year-olds account for 3.5% of licensed drivers in the United States. However, statistics from 2020 show that they account for 8.9% of crashes and 6.0% of fatal crashes.
The crash rate per 100,000 licensed drivers decreases as driver age increases. That trend continues until age 75, when it starts to increase again. The numbers get significantly higher when drivers reach 80 years old. At that point, the crash rate surpasses that of teenagers.
Age itself does not cause increased car accidents in younger and older people. However, people in those age groups are more susceptive to behavioral and physical conditions that lead to car accidents. As a result, drivers in those age groups need to be more aware of their surroundings and watch the road.
Get Help after a Car Accident
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