• May 30th 2012 at 10:30AM
  • 15
Senior drivers may not have a good grip on their drivin... Senior drivers may not have a good grip on their driving abilities (Getty Images).
The driving habits and reflexes of eldery drivers is a perennial controversy in many states. But a vast majority of senior drivers -- 85 percent, to be exact -- rated their driving as "excellent" or "good" according to a recent survey undergone by the University of Alabama at Birmingham, reported UPI.

The drivers, aged 65 to 91 with a mean age of 74, were remarkably laudatory of their skills, with less than 1 percent of responders rating their driving as "fair" and none rating it as "poor."

Lesley Ross, the study's author, and her colleagues analyzed data from the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration regarding 350 older drivers who were asked about state-reported crashes and other incidents over a 5-year period. Drivers were then asked to rate their driving skills at the end.

Studies like this are on the rise. In the next 20 years the number of elderly drivers (persons 70 and over) is predicted to triple in the United States. As age increases, older drivers generally become more conservative on the road, according to www.smartmotorist.com. Many mature drivers modify their driving habits (for instance to avoid busy highways or night-time driving) to match their declining capabilities. However, statistics show that older drivers are more likely than younger ones to be involved in multi-vehicle crashes, particularly at intersections, smartmotorist.com reports.

Research on age related driving shows that drivers, at around the age of 65, face an increased risk of being involved in a vehicle crash. After age 75, the risk of driver fatality increases sharply, because older drivers are more vulnerable to both crash related injury and death. Three behavioral factors contribute: poor judgment in making left-hand turns; drifting within the traffic lane; and decreased ability to change behavior in response to an unexpected or rapidly changing situation.

Interestingly, Ross and her colleagues found that self-rated driving ability had no correlation with a history of crashes or other incidents on the road. The study also found that senior men were more likely to be involved in incidents on the road, yet were less likely to be told to stop driving by family, friends or physicians.

So what does it all mean?

The study suggests that senior citizens may not have a solid grip on the reality of their driving skills, since those surveyed didn't seem to take a history of crashes/incidents into account when rating their driving.

"A large debate in driving research is whether or not at-risk drivers can self-regulate, and thus possibly reduce their crash risk. This research indicates that, at least for this sample, a previous history of four adverse driving outcomes has no relationship with self-reported driving ability, thus possibly indicating a lack of awareness in regards to driving abilities," Ross said in a statement.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      Pure Capitalism
      • 3 Years Ago
      Headline is misleading. I thought the story was about highschool seniors, not senior citizens. Nice job Mr. Editor. Its all about context.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Hmm the story I read just before this one was about the 25 year old that was drunk and speeding, rolled his expensive car, which then caught fire and killed his 24 year old friend. No Seniors involved in that one?
      • 3 Years Ago
      This is tantamount to liberals saying they are good Americans.
      • 3 Years Ago
      I've sure gotten old. I've had 2 By-pass surgeries, a hip replacement, and new knees. I’ve fought prostate cancer, and diabetes. I'm half blind, can't hear anything quieter than a jet engine, take 40 different medications that make me dizzy, winded, and subject to blackouts. Have bouts with dementia. Have poor circulation; hardly feel my hands and feet anymore. I can’t remember if I'm 88 or 92. I have lost all my friends. But.....Thank God, I still have my Florida driver's license!
      • 3 Years Ago
      Most old fogies have Alzheimer's and should stick to the scooter.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Dustyfw: If seniors are costing you so much, where???You must be one of the freeloaders who resent seniors who have paid for their Medicare and Social Security, afraid you might lose part of your handout. Remember you will be old one day and your kids get to choose your nursing home or how you will die.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Duh. Most everyone you ask will say they are above-average driver. The problem is, 50% of the drivers must be below average. They must be ghosts.
      • 3 Years Ago
      tebag_jerk just needs another welfare check to buy more drugs ,so he can keep running his mouth !!
      • 3 Years Ago
      This story reminds me of all the old crazy coots at teabagger rallies. Delusional and addled by dementia, these "baggers" are all stuck in a mythical 1950's haze.
      • 3 Years Ago
      The biggest problem I have with senior drivers is this: Many seniors will NOT turn their heads to look for other drivers around them, and most just look straight ahead and drive. I don't know if it's whether they can't turn their heads, or if they just won't. But, they certainly aren't aware of who or what's around them. In North Carolina, it's people 65 and older that cause the most fatalities. (not young kids) That is unusual, but it's the truth. It's been reported and I used to live there. We were hearing about this all the time. I am 56, and have NOTHING against seniors, since I am close to being one myself. But, I've told my kids: The day I can't drive well, and become a danger to anyone else. TAKE MY KEYS AWAY.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Most seniors who drive, do realize that on certain days they are not up to par and will not drive, but ask family member, or neighbor to take them on "have to" errands. I am 75, and until 5 years ago, I drove to Florida alone 2-3 round trips staying in warmer weather for the winter. Never had any problems, and in answer to the person who commented on seniors looking straight ahead never turning their heads, some have a hard time turning to look behind them, therefore utilize their dashboard mirror and 2 side mirrors to check traffic. I know that I do this and have found it very effective, I even back by my mirrors instead of turning my head, do a damn good job of it too. I think most of us know when we can no longer safely operate our cars, we will ask someone to do our driving, I know I will. I definitely don't want to cause an accident and hurt someone as welll as myself, I don't heal like I used to.
      • 3 Years Ago
      seniors are costing this country a fortune. Time for death panels.
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