UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - Today's drivers aged 70 and older are less likely to be involved in crashes than previous generations, according to a study released Thursday by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety.
The new study that debunks the age-old myth that the elderly get into more accidents, says older drivers are actually safer and smarter on the roads. It also says older people are less likely to be killed or seriously injured if they do crash.
The study contributes accident rates improving for older drivers to how vehicles are built today and how seniors health has improved over the years.
Ed Welch of AAA said, "If you add to that, the safety features that are in new cars such as the airbag, traction control, ABS breaks and systems in cars to make them safer, you got yourself a package that will improve peoples lives and keep them from getting killed on the roads."
From 1997 until 2012, fatal crash rates per driver fell 42 percent for older drivers, compared to 30 percent for the middle aged. The greatest rate of decline was among drivers age 80 and older, nearly twice that of middle age drivers.
The Utica chapter of the AARP said the elderly are more inclined to give up their license if experiencing difficulties behind the wheel.
Charlene Lojewski, the Chapter President for the Utica chapter of AARP said, " I think as people know they can no longer drive or should drive they are making that decision."
Lojewski also said the elderly are living longer, "They are doing it at a later age because older americans are healthier now then they were the last few decades."
The AARP wants to encourage people age 50 and older to take their drivers safety course. The course gives people a chance to review the rules of the road along with tips on how to manage and common age- related changes.