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Are Elderly Drivers Actually Safer Drivers?

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By Daniel Taylor, Esq. on December 04, 2014 11:53 AM

A new study seems to debunk the widely held belief that elderly drivers are less safe than younger drivers.

The study, released this week by AAA's Foundation for Traffic Safety, found that seniors are more likely to avoid unsafe behaviors behind the wheel than younger drivers, reports CBS News. As a result, accident rates for drivers 65 or older have been declining, with 31 percent fewer fatalities in 2012 than in 1997.

What else did the study have to say about older drivers?

Older Drivers Less Likely to Drive Distracted, Intoxicated

The study echoes previous studies that show younger drivers are far more likely to drive while distracted by cell phones. According to the study, only 34 percent of drivers 75 or older say they've driven while talking on a cell phone compared to 82 percent of drivers age 25-39. When it came to using the Internet while driving, more than 98 percent of drivers 65 or older reported never having done it.

Older drivers were also shown to frown upon other dangerous driving behaviors such driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, driving without a seatbelt, and driving while drowsy. Of the older drivers surveyed by AAA, 99 percent reported never having been in an accident, with an equal number claiming to have not received any moving violations in the last two years.

Older Drivers Support More Restrictions

Despite their penchant for practicing safe-driving habits, older drivers were also largely in favor of stricter rules for older drivers. More than 70 percent of drivers surveyed supported requiring senior drivers over 75 years of age to renew their driver's licenses in person and pass medical screenings to remain licensed.

"Even though public perception tends to unfairly characterize seniors as a menace on the road, these findings indicate that older Americans tend to support policies to keep themselves safer behind the wheel, making them key allies in their mission to keep driving-smarter and longer," AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety CEO Peter Kissinger said in a statement posted on the AAA website.

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