A recent study has found that a senior’s risk of being involved in a deadly crash can vary by state.
Caring.com compared the number of fatal collision victims aged 65 years or older in each state with that age group’s share of the state population to determine the top 10 safest states for senior drivers. Sources used for the study include NHTSA and the U.S. Census Bureau, with data supplied from 2014.
Unsurprisingly, factors such as weather, population density and tougher driving laws for elderly drivers all attributed to the number of seniors killed in traffic accidents. Many of the safest cities for senior drivers are free of harsh wintry conditions such as snow and ice. Click here to see the most dangerous states for seniors.
Approximately 17 percent of traffic fatalities in Connecticut involved a senior, with the age group accounting for about 15 percent of the population in the state. Connecticut also has a state law that mandates in-person driver’s license renewals starting at age 65, with an exemption for drivers that can prove a hardship preventing them from coming to renew in person.
Often considered a popular destination for retirees, Florida surprisingly has a fairly low ratio of vehicle-related fatalities involving senior drivers. In fact, the ratio of fatalities among the state’s senior drivers was 19 percent, matching that age group’s share of the state population. Florida also requires frequent renewals of driver’s licenses as well as vision tests once they reach 80 years old.
Wyoming may be one of the 19 states in the U.S. that doesn’t have stricter rules for senior drivers, but it is also one of the safest. Both the rates of drivers 65 and over killed in traffic accidents and the share of seniors in the state population were both 14 percent.
7. South Carolina
Seniors in South Carolina make up 16 percent of the state’s population, but those elderly drivers accounted for 15 percent of car-related deaths. South Carolina is also home to some of the strictest laws in the U.S. for older drivers. Starting from age 65, drivers must renew their license every five years and pass a vision test.
Another southern state that is one of the safest for older drivers, Mississippi comes in sixth place with seniors accounting for about 13 percent of those killed in car accidents. Those 65 years or older make up about 14 percent of Mississippi’s population.
Montana also has laws requiring more frequent driver’s license renewals for residents starting at the age of 75, helping make it one of the safest states for senior drivers. The senior population accounts for 17 percent while that age group was involved in 15 percent of traffic-related deaths.
Despite cold conditions during winter, Alaska still comes out as one of the safest states for senior drivers. Seniors make up nine percent of the state’s population, but accounted for only seven percent of traffic fatalities in 2014. The state also has stricter laws for elderly drivers, starting at age 69, requiring them to renew their driver’s license in person. Likely contributing to the state’s low rate of senior-involved deaths is its low population density.
In Louisiana, nearly 11 percent of fatal car accident victims involved a senior, while the age group represents 14 percent of the state’s population. Drivers in Louisiana must renew their driver’s licenses in person starting at age 70.
2. North Dakota
Helping make North Dakota one of the safest states for senior drivers are its sparse population and stricter driving laws. In 2014, there was a total of 135 car accident deaths in North Dakota and 10 percent had senior drivers. Those 65 or older however, make up 14 percent of the state’s population. The state requires driver’s license renewals every four years starting at 78 years old, compared to six years for younger drivers.
1. New Mexico
And the safest state for senior drivers according to Caring.com’s study is New Mexico. Out of all 50 states in the U.S., New Mexico had the lowest rate of senior fatalities, coming in at six percent lower than the senior population. According to data, seniors account for over 15 percent of New Mexico’s population, but only nine percent of driving deaths in 2014 involved a senior driver. The state also has some of the strictest laws, with senior drivers age 75 and on having to renew their driver’s license each year.