We’re all familiar with the cliché that senior citizens are terrible drivers. I’ve seen it in movies and television my whole life. Like some clichés, there is a bit of truth to this one. But fortunately, it’s becoming less and less true as the years go by.

A decade ago, researchers were warning us of a dark and scary future where traffic accidents increased nationwide due to aging baby boomers. Turns out, they were wrong. A new study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows that today’s 70+ year-old drivers are both less likely to be involved in an accident and less likely to be seriously injured if they are. Why? The study pointed out two reasons.

  1. Cars are safer than they used to be.

    Safe cars are important to consumers, and therefore important to auto manufacturers as well. Ads for cars constantly brag about their vehicle’s safety standards. And it’s been making a difference. Traffic fatalities in the US are down among people of all ages-- currently the lowest they’ve been since the 1940s.

    This decline is even more significant among seniors than it is the middle aged. The greatest decline of all was seen among drivers over age 80, despite the fact that older drivers are now driving more miles annually than before. Which brings us to the second point…

  2. Seniors are healthier than they used to be.

    By being mentally and physically fitter, seniors not only have better odds at surviving a crash, they’re also better drivers.

  3. In addition to these two main reasons, seniors today grew up around busy freeways and other obstacles that their predecessors were less comfortable navigating. So even though the cliché of bad senior drivers persists, today’s senior drivers are safer than ever.