Driving Safety for Older Adults

Basic Facts

Older Adults and Driving

Driving a car represents freedom and independence and helps older adults to feel more satisfied and in control of their lives. Millions of people drive after their 65th birthdays: 81% of people aged 65 and older (over 40 million people) held driver’s licenses as of 2015.

However, when people begin to experience age-related physical and mental changes, driving can become more difficult and dangerous for older adults.

The Statistics

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 7,400 older adults were killed in motor vehicle crashes. Another 290,000 were injured (figures are from 2016).

56% more older adults were on the road in 2016 than in 1999.

As Age Increases, So Does Risk

Fatal automobile crash rates spike between ages 70 to 74, and are highest among drivers 85 and older, according to the CDC. These older driver deaths are caused as much by their increased frailty and medical complications as by their increased risk of crashes.

Other things that may affect the ability of older adults to safely operate a motor vehicle are age-related vision problems, their ability to think and make decisions, and age-related physical changes such as arthritis pain.


Last Updated February 2017