Risk of fatal auto accidents at intersections for older drivers

Eric Saiontz

By Eric Saiontz
Posted March 25, 2007


According to a report released by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, fatal auto accidents at intersections occur more often with elderly drivers.  Those over 70 years old were found to be more likely to cause an accident as a result of failing to yield the right of way to another vehicle.

The auto accident research analyzed data from crashes occurring in one state over a 15 month period.  The report indicates that older drivers did do a better job than younger drivers at staying on the road and had fewer rear-end crashes.  However, as they aged, drivers were found to increasingly fail to yield to other vehicles, making it more likely that they will be involved in a fatal auto accident.

There are many things to be aware of at an intersection, and older drivers had greater difficulty processing everything that was happening.  Researchers interviewed at-fault drivers about the causes of auto accidents, and found that older drivers failed to yield to other cars because they misjudged distances or because they never saw the other vehicle.

Generally, older drivers have lower overall rates of police-reported auto accidents, but they also drive significantly less than younger drivers.  When looking at the rates of crashes per mile traveled, research shows an increase when drivers are in their 70s and a sharp rise after 80.  Researchers pointed out that the older drivers are also more likely to be hurt or killed in an auto accidents because they are more susceptible to injury and medical complications.

Long term trends indicate that older drivers are keeping their licenses longer and driving more miles each year.  The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety indicates that better road designs and signs could help reduce the number of fatal auto accidents at intersections.  Adding dedicated green arrows for left turns at intersections with traffic lights and constructing more traffic circles could help reduce accidents caused by failing to yield the right of way.


Eric Saiontz is a Maryland auto accident lawyer representing individuals who were injured as a result of the negligence of other drivers.  He is also licensed to practice in Virginia, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia.  To speak with a lawyer about your legal rights following an auto accident, request a free claim evaluation.

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