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Senior drivers weigh in on study

Story: Study says older people are having fewer accidents | Dr. Gridlock's Take | The study

After reading Ashley Halsey III's story on a recent study of senior drivers, several readers wrote in to talk about why they believe seniors are having fewer accidents. Here are their comments:

Maybe it's only a matter of "survival of the fittest" behind fewer accidents among drivers in their 70's and 80's. In other words, perhaps only those who have always been in good health and have good safety records are still fit enough to remain on the road and be counted as having fewer accidents, while the more accident-prone drivers, with not-so-good health and safety histories, are no longer behind the wheel and therefore don't figure in the count.
Nancy Carmichael

The reasons why seniors have fewer accidents: We don't, while driving, use cell phones, do texting, drive at night, have loud radios on that drown out emergency vehicle sirens, drive in storms, and judge where to drive in the safest of traffic. With seat belts on. We don't drive in rush hour but hard to find out what time rush hour is in the Washington area. It seems rush hour is all the time anymore. Drive the roads you know. Sometimes the shortest distant between two points is not a straight line, but the road you know. Stop and park to use a cell phone and take driver's ed courses for seniors.
D. McAllister

The answer to why older drivers are safer is simple.-- one word TIME. When we go to an event we leave a half-hour earlier than we think is necessary (also to get a parking place). Usually we do not have an appointment afterwards so can take our time leaving. We make sure the coast is clear before turning right on red or left on green yield even if a car behind us honks. We generally drive five miles above the speed limit in the right hand lane and do not change lanes in heavy traffic to save 2 minutes. We try to schedule appointments to avoid driving after dusk or when its raining on winding two lane roads.

The researchers seem puzzled by the outcome and searching for explanations and researcher, McCartts asked, "If you come up with a good reason, give me a call, and we'll research it." One reason may be that people who are today over 80 actually grew up around cars (and therefore were more familiar and comfortable with them), and learned to drive at an earlier age than those of previous generations. Often, when those types of skills are acquired at a younger age, they are stronger and more likely to be retained. My mother, now deceased, who grew up in a rural area with few cars did not learn to drive until she was in her mid-thirties and was never terribly comfortable driving. My father, however, grew up in a city where there were more cars and learned to drive at a younger age. At 84, he remains a very competent and safe driver.
Nessa Feddis

After reading your article on why older drivers have fewer car accidents, I can think of one possible reason for it: cell phones. Since older people are possibly not as quick to accept new ideas and changes in technology. Could it be that seniors use fewer cell phones, especially when driving? After recently reading a study that talking on the phone while behind a wheel makes a person as inattentive as a drunk. The possibility of fewer cell phone use by older drivers could be part of the answer.
George Guma

By Michael Bolden  | June 22, 2010; 3:42 PM ET
Categories:  Highways, Transportation Politics  
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