Teens and Mature Drivers
While the vast majority of drivers on the road are between the ages of 21 and 65, the number of new and mature drivers who are involved in fatal motor vehicle accidents is disproportionately high when compared to the licensed population of each group.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), young drivers between the ages of 15 and 20 accounted for nearly 6 percent of the total number of licensed drivers in the United States but 9 percent of the total number of drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2014. Nearly 3,885 young drivers were involved in fatal crashes that year, and about 40 percent of those who died in these accidents were young drivers. Unfortunately, 66 percent of the passengers killed in these crashes were also between the ages of 15 and 20 years. An estimated 1,717 young drivers were killed in motor vehicle accidents and 170,000 more were injured. Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for this age group.
Still, young driver deaths have decreased by nearly 48 percent. Part of this decrease may be due to the adoption of the Graduated Driver’s License program that gives new drivers increasing privileges as they gain experience and skill. The program also restricts the number of passengers they can transport, as well as the times they can be on the road.
Between 2005 and 2014, the number of mature drivers killed in traffic accidents decreased by 10 percent while the population of this age group increased 26 percent. Mature individuals aged 65 or older accounted for 17 percent of all traffic deaths, and about nine percent of all people hurt in accidents in 2014. In fact, of the 38.4 million licensed older operators, about 221,000 were injured in motor vehicle accidents and 5,709 were killed.
Even though mature drivers have some of the lowest accident rates and tend to be safer drivers in that they do not drink and drive or speed as much as their younger counterparts, older road users often suffer more physical injury when they are involved in accidents. To help keep older drivers safe, in many states, these operators have different license renewal rules than other adult drivers. Some states shorten the renewal term while others require regular vision tests or even road skills tests.
Several organizations, like the AAA and AARP, have programs and information to help keep older drivers safer when they are on the road, and to help them keep their driving independence longer.
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