Risk to self versus risk to others: how do older drivers compare to others on the road?

Am J Prev Med. 2004 Apr;26(3):217-21. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2003.10.021.


Background: The objective of this study was to assess the risk of death or nonfatal injury drivers aged >/=65 pose to themselves and to other road users as compared with drivers in younger age groups.

Methods: Crash-related deaths and injuries were separated into two categories: those occurring among the drivers themselves, and those occurring among others, such as passengers, bicyclists, or pedestrians.

Results: The number of deaths among others varied by driver's age, with deaths among others decreasing as the driver's age increased. The proportion of deaths among others compared with deaths among drivers also varied by age. For drivers in the youngest three age groups, about two thirds of the deaths were among others (ages 16 to 19, 63.1%; ages 20 to 34, 68.1%; and ages 35 to 59, 66.6%). This proportion declined with age, reaching a low among drivers aged >/=85 years (ages 60 to 74, 52.2%, ages 75 to 84, 37.9%, ages >/=85, 18.9%). When calculating deaths among others per 100 million miles driven, crashes among young (16 to 19) and older (aged >74) drivers were associated with more deaths to others than were crashes among drivers aged 20 to 74. The number of nonfatal injuries among others also declined as age of the driver increased. The number of injuries among others per 100 million miles driven was highest among the youngest (16 to 19) and oldest (>/=85) drivers.

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that older drivers make relatively small contributions to crash-related morbidity and mortality; moreover, their contributions are generally a result of injuries to self rather than to others.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic / mortality*
  • Accidents, Traffic / statistics & numerical data*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Automobile Driving
  • Cause of Death*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Injury Severity Score
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Trauma / diagnosis
  • Multiple Trauma / mortality*
  • Multiple Trauma / therapy
  • Probability
  • Reaction Time
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk-Taking
  • Sex Distribution
  • United States