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Researchers: Car accident rate dropping among older drivers

As much as its members might dislike admitting, the Baby Boom generation is graying. In anticipation of the advancing age of the nation's largest generation in history, researchers a decade ago worried that an aging America would be a more dangerous place to drive.

But a study released yesterday by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows that drivers today aged 70 and up are less likely to be in car accidents than older drivers of previous generations.

Today's older drivers are also less likely to be badly injured or killed in car accidents than older drivers were in the past.

Two big reasons for improvements in crash rates and injury rates: cars are made safer, and older drivers are today taking better care of themselves than seniors of the past did, the report said.

The decline in the accidents and injury rates began about a decade ago. Those declines show that as the ranks of senior drivers swell as Baby Boomers retire, those seniors are not making U.S. streets and highways more perilous.

Other facts to consider: traffic fatalities nationwide have fallen to 1940s levels. While middle-aged drivers (ages 35 to 54) have also seen declines in accident rates, their declines have not been as great as the rate drops among seniors.

From 1997 to 2012, middle-aged drivers saw fatal crash rates drop a full 30 percent, researchers said. But older drivers saw their fatal accident rate fall 42 percent over the same period.  

"This (research) should help ease fears that aging Baby Boomers are a safety threat," said the co-author of the study.

When a car accident does occur, however, injury victims often turn to experienced personal injury attorneys to help them pursue full and fair compensation for medical bills, lost income and other damages.

Source: WISTV.com, "Accident rates improving for older drivers," Joan Lowy, Feb. 20, 2014

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