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 |  Jun 25 2010, 11:10 AM

Forget all the jokes you’re heard about senior drivers. A new report from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) shows that fatal crash rates have dropped significantly with elderly drivers.

This report found that fatal car crashes for elderly drivers over 70 years old from 1997 to 2008 dropped dramatically by 37 percent. Even drivers who were over 80 years old were staying safe – the crash rates this group fell by almost half. For the rest of you young whipper snappers aged 35 to 54, you didn’t fare quite as well – the rates for this age group only dropped by 23 percent.

Even when it came to crashes that involved injuries, seniors over 80 years old came out ahead, declining 34 percent from 1997 to 2005 – that’s pretty good, especially when compared to a 16-percent decline for the 35 to 54 age group (those kids are always in a hurry to get somewhere). Senior drivers also saw a drop in crashes that involved property damage with no injuries, which were down 20 percent.

As for the results of this survey, the drops in car accident rates could stem from seniors who are policing their own driving behaviours – this could mean less driving or giving up their car altogether. Also helping keep elderly drivers safe are the polices put into place by 18 states, which include vision tests for older drivers, shorter licensing renewal periods, and prohibiting renewal by mail or electronically. And don’t forget that better health and physical conditioning may result in fewer crashes and help seniors fare better in accidents.

So any previous worries of having a large, aging population on the road seem to be less serious than once thought. However, no studies have been commissioned on the concern about the number of indicator signals that threaten to left on for miles and miles by this growing demographic – we’ll just have to continue to be annoyed until the issue is tackled.

[Source: Consumer Reports]