Statistics on Elderly Drivers

Fast Facts

  • Older drivers (65 and older) made up 21% of all licensed drivers in 2020 [1]
  • Older drivers (65 and older) were involved in 13% of all fatal traffic crashes in 2020.[1]
  • Senior drivers account for 17% of all traffic fatalities, with 6,549 people 65 and older killed in traffic crashes in the United States in 2020.[1]
  • New Hampshire is the state with the highest percentage of older licensed drivers involved in fatal crashes with 22%[1]
  • Older drivers are more likely to be killed on rural roads than urban roadways (53% versus 46%)[1]
  • Each day, 20 older adults are killed and almost 540 are injured in crashes.[2]
  • An older driver’s abilities can be affected by vision impairment, loss of physical functioning, altered ability to reason and remember, as well as some diseases and medications.
  • Despite their growing numbers, older drivers are involved in fewer fatal automobile collisions than they have been in the past. 4,570 people ages 70 and older died in crashes in 2020 — 22% less than in 1997.[4]
  • Elderly drivers are mostly a danger to themselves and their passengers (who are typically also older). In 2020, 71% of people killed in crashes involving drivers 70 years or older were either the elderly drivers themselves (59%) or their older passengers (12%).[7]

Who is Getting in Accidents?

  • Elderly drivers 80 years and older have the highest fatality rate. Among the older population, the traffic fatality rate per 100,000 population in 2020 was highest for the 80-to-84 and 85-and-older age groups[1]
  • Drivers aged 70+ have higher crash death rates per 1,000 crashes than middle-aged drivers (aged 35-54). This is likely due to older individuals having increased vulnerability to injury in the event of a crash.[3]
  • Older women get in more accidents. Older female drivers accounted for 20% of all female driver fatalities in 2020, compared with 16% for the older-male-driver fatalities.[1]
  • Between 2011 – 2020, total traffic fatalities among the 65-and-older population increased by 21%. Traffic fatalities for older men increased 35%, while it decreased for older women by 1%.[1]
  • Between 2011 – 2020, fatalities of 65-and-older pedestrians increased by 40% overall (increased for males by 48% and for females by 24%).

Where Do Seniors Get Into Car Accidents?

  • 70% of older pedestrian fatalities in 2020 occurred at non-intersection locations, compared to 86% for those under 65.[1]
  • Older drivers are more likely to be killed on rural roads. In 2020 more older drivers were killed on rural roadways than on urban roadways (53% versus 46%). This is the opposite for younger drivers, who were more likely to killed on urban roadways than on rural roadways (51% versus 48%).[1]
  • Older drivers are more likely to be killed in car accidents when hit in the driver’s seat. Older drivers are more frequently killed in crashes where the initial impact point is on the left side (16%) versus those killed under 65 who experienced initial impact on the left side (10%).[1]
  • Risks to older bikers increased too. Between 2011 – 2020, fatalities of pedalcyclists 65 and older (though a relatively small number) almost doubled for men and more than tripled for women.[1]
  • Older drives get into accidents at different times of the day than younger people. In 2020 most traffic fatalities in crashes involving older drivers occurred during the daytime (72%), on weekdays (69%), and involved other vehicles (66%). These percentages are higher compared to all fatalities (46% during the daytime, 59% on weekdays, and 44% involving another vehicle).[1]
  • New Hampshire is the state with the highest percentage of older licensed drivers involved in fatal crashes with 22%. The District of
    Columbia had the lowest percentage with 6%, followed by California with 9%.[1]
  • Florida was the state with the highest number of older driver fatalities, with 625 driving fatalities for people 65 and over in 2020. [1]

Other Elderly Driver Stats

  • Failure to yield the right-of-way is the most common error by seniors involved in car crashes. Senior drivers are cited for this driving error more often than younger drivers. [5]
  • Older drivers were also guilty of mid-judging distance and speed of other vehicles. Drivers ages 70 and older were found to be more likely than drivers ages 35-54 to make inadequate surveillance errors (i.e. not checking blind spots or checking the rear-view mirror) or to misjudge the length of a gap between vehicles or another car’s speed.[6]
  • Older drivers are less likely to drive while intoxicated. In fatal crashes in 2020, older drivers had lower percentages (10%) of drivers with blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) of .08 grams per deciliter (g/dL) or higher, compared to those from the 21-to-64 group (22%).[1]
  • The number of older drivers has been increasing. The number of older drivers increased by 38% between 2011 – 2020, with the total number of licensed drivers of all ages increasing by 8%. Older drivers made up 21% of all licensed drivers in 2020, compared to 16% in 2011.[1]
  • Older women wear seatbelts more often than older men. Men were restrained 62% of the time, while older women were restrained 78% of the time [1]
  • Seniors are more at risk due to fragility. One study of older drivers found that the main factor was not senior drivers’ over-involvement in crashes, but rather their fragility, or risk of death in a car crash [6]

How to Prevent Elderly Car Accidents

  • In-person license renewals are key for lowering senior driving fatalities. In-person license renewal and vision testing are the only policies that have been associated with lower fatality rates among older drivers (and only among drivers ages 85 and older). For drivers 55 and older, these requirements do not seem to make an effective difference.[8]
  • Side airbags go a long way to protecting elderly drivers. Side airbags with head and torso protection have been estimated to reduce fatalities in front seat occupants ages 70 and older by 45 % for impacts — significantly larger than the 30% reduction for 13-49 aged front-seat occupants. [9]
  • Seniors prefer roundabouts over complicated traffic signals. Roundabouts reduce vehicle speeds and eliminate some of the more complicated dimensions of traditional intersections. One study found that converting stop signs or traffic signals to roundabouts, reduced injury crashes by 76% .[10]


  1. National Center for Statistics and Analysis. (2022, July). Older population: 2020 data (Traffic Safety Facts. Report No. DOT HS 813 341). National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS). Atlanta, GA: CDC; 2022. Available at: Accessed 21 April 2022.
  3. Cox AE and Cicchino JB. Continued trends in older driver crash involvement rates in the United States: Data through 2017–2018. Journal of Safety Research 2021; 77: 288-295.
  4. Cox, A. E., & Cicchino, J. B. (2021). Continued trends in older driver crash involvement rates in the United States: Data through 2017-2018. Journal of safety research77, 288–295.
  5. Mayhew, D. R., Simpson, H. M., & Ferguson, S. A. (2006). Collisions involving senior drivers: high-risk conditions and locations. Traffic injury prevention7(2), 117–124.
  6. Cicchino, J. B., & McCartt, A. T. (2015). Critical older driver errors in a national sample of serious U.S. crashes. Accident; analysis and prevention80, 211–219.
  7. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. (n.d.). Older drivers. Retrieved January 31, 2023, from
  8. Tefft B. C. (2014). Driver license renewal policies and fatal crash involvement rates of older drivers, United States, 1986-2011. Injury epidemiology1(1), 25.
  9. Kahane, C. J. (2013, May). Injury vulnerability and effectiveness of occupant protection technologies for older occupants and women. (Report No. DOT HS 811 766). Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
  10. Retting, R. A., Persaud, B. N., Garder, P. E., & Lord, D. (2001). Crash and injury reduction following installation of roundabouts in the United States. American journal of public health91(4), 628–631.

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