Characteristics of traffic crashes among young, middle-aged, and older drivers

Accid Anal Prev. 1999 May;31(3):181-98. doi: 10.1016/s0001-4575(98)00061-x.


An overview of the characteristics of traffic crashes among young, middle-aged and older drivers is presented. The results suggest that the youngest and the oldest drivers were more likely to be considered at-fault. With respect to crash characteristics, older drivers were less likely to have crashes involving driver fatigue, during the evening and early morning, on curved roads, during adverse weather, involving a single vehicle, and while traveling at high speeds. Conversely, older drivers were over-represented in crashes at intersections and/or involving failure to yield the right of way, unseen objects, and failure to heed stop signs or signals. Crashes occurring while turning and changing lanes were also more common among older drivers. Alcohol was less likely to be a factor in traffic crashes involving older adults. Synthesizing these results led to the conclusion that the primary problem with the young is risk-taking and lack of skill. The strength of older drivers lies in their aversion to risk, but perceptual problems and difficulty judging and responding to traffic flow often counterbalance this attribute.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic / mortality
  • Accidents, Traffic / statistics & numerical data*
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Alabama / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk-Taking