As baby boomers age, there has been a growing concern that traffic fatalities and vehicle crashes will spike especially since older drivers already are a high risk segment, but a new study finds that these changing demographics won't cause the crisis many are predicting.
The new study by the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) looked at the changing demographics and how it could affect insurance claims and found that while the driving population is expected to increase and older drivers will account for a larger percentage, there will not be an increase in collision claims based on their predictions. In addition, while a higher number of older drivers will be on the road, there will be a decrease in drivers under age 30, who have the highest claims overall.
HLDI analysts also looked at collision claims if more seniors continue to drive. They increased the rate of insured drivers by 20 percent for people over 65 and found that it still didn't change the insurance claim frequency. Looking at current trends, the overall claim rate is decreasing and will actually be lower in 2030 than in 2010.
The study only looked at low-severity crashes and didn't make a prediction on fatal crashes, which is higher for older drivers because their fragility makes them more likely to die in a crash. There could be a higher rate of fatal crashes in the future, but health improvements could also make them less likely to die in those crashes. Safer cars may also help contribute to a reduction in fatality rate as new technologies can help older drivers avoid crashes in the first place.
The issue of older drivers is a complicated one. In our October 2012 article "Risky Drivers", we looked at the crash risks older drivers and found that it is not only high traffic fatalities that are of concern, but what they should do when they can't drive anymore. Unfortunately, there aren't many transportation alternatives for seniors who need to give up the keys. Small community organizations are working to increase mobility and offer ride shares, but not nearly enough to handle the future demand.
This is a growing concern that all of us will need to address and help plan for in the future.