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For many seniors, driving is inseparable from independenceâ€¦
When it comes to auto fatalities, who do you think is more likely to die behind the wheel: your 16-year-old nephew or your 82-year-old grandmother? Your grandmother drives slowly and wears her seatbelt.Â Your nephew speeds and talks on the cell phone. So the answer is your nephew, right?Â No â€” the correct answer is your grandmother.
A recent study by Carnegie Mellon University indicates that elderly female drivers have a higher fatality rate per mile than 16-year-old boys. Statistics released by Traffic STATS, a new risk analysis of road fatalities produced by the university, shows that an 82-year-old female driver is 60 percent more likely to die on the road than a 16-year-old male driver because they are more frail.
â€œItâ€™s not an issue of risk-taking behavior, but of fragility,â€ according to Anne McCartt, a research official at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.Â Older people are more likely to die when they are injured in an accident, she adds, and points out that elderly women have the highest road death risks even when they are not driving â€” five times higher than the national average.
These figures make sense but the news gets worse. Statistics released this past year by the National Institute on Aging conclude that the fatality rate for seniors is going to skyrocket as the baby boomer generation ages and continues to drive.Â
As previously indicated, elderly women in particular will be at risk. The numbers increase because the ratio of women to men will grow from 1-1 for young people to 100 women for every 35 men by age 85.
The goal of the research was to try to determine factors related to senior-driver crashes such as body region injured, severity of the crash and circumstances surrounding the fatal crash.Â Results indicated:
Drivers 65 and over killed in car accidents were significantly more likely to die of a chest injury.Â Â Â Â Â
Older drivers were more likely to die after the crash date.
Frailty or pre-existing conditions played a significant role in the deaths of older drivers.
If these predictions are correct, we can anticipate more elderly drivers and passengers and a greater number of fatalities among our senior population in the next decade.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
Itâ€™s a frightening prospect but before you take away grandmaâ€™s keys, consider the consequences. Thereâ€™s a lot more to lose than just driving. Thereâ€™s the loss of independence.