Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Experience Matters When It Comes to Driving

According to a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, people become better drivers with age and experience, at least until old age sets in. For the same number of miles driven, rates of both crashes and deaths are relatively high among 16-17-yr-olds, decline steadily with age until 70, and then rise again.

None of this should be a surprise; new drivers lack the experience that comes with a long history of driving, and older drivers are beginning to lose their sensory acuity and reaction times. But the numbers are startling. For the same number of miles driven, 16-17-yr-old drivers are about 6 times as likely to crash (and to die in a crash) as the safest group of drivers, 60-69-yr-olds. So, too, are drivers over the age of 80.

Traffic safety experts have been aware of these facts for some time. That is why some states now limit the conditions under which younger drivers can drive (forbidding driving with other teenagers or driving at night, for example). Most states require older drivers to have a vision test to renew their licenses, and a few states require older drivers to take a written test or a road test as well. All this seems to be working, as the number of people killed in automobile crashes declined more than 25% between 1995 and 2010.

Incidentally, teen crashes and deaths go up about 15% in the summer, when teens are out of school and may be driving more than during the school year.

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