Study: Aged Drivers?More Accidents, Fewer Tickets

By Gary Mogel

NU Online News Service, Sept. 30, 3 :22 p.m. EDT?Drivers over age 81 have about as many auto accidents as teenagers, but receive considerably fewer tickets for moving violations, according to a research group.

The San Francisco, Calif.-based Quality Planning Corp. said it found in a study that 16- to 20-year-old drivers have the most accidents (28 per million miles driven), and that the accident rate continues to decrease in every age bracket until drivers reach age 61, when it begins to creep back up.

In the 81-and-over bracket, the accident rate goes up to nearly the same level as teenagers?27 per million miles driven.

Dr. Daniel Finnegan, founder and president of QPC, noted that teenage drivers generally have less skill and experience, accounting for their higher accident rate. “For the older drivers, their slower reaction time and vision contribute to the greater accident potential,” Dr. Finnegan said.

“One hour of driving requires that over 200,000 decisions be made,” he added.

Despite the similarity in the accident rate between younger and older drivers, it is by far the younger age group that has the most moving violations, the study concluded.

Drivers in the 16- to 20-year-old age group have the highest number of moving violations?21 per million miles driven. The rate for moving violations continues to drop as drivers get older, with drivers age 81 and over having a rate of 4 violations per million miles driven.

“Older drivers don’t drive as fast or as recklessly,” noted Bob U’Ren, QPC’s vice president of business development and underwriting. “They are also much less aggressive drivers.”

“These figures should be cause for concern among auto insurance companies,” Dr Finnegan said. “It’s clear that moving violation data is not as good a predictor of risk as drivers’ age, which means insurers need to rely less on DMV data when making underwriting decisions,” he added. “Age is one area where we believe insurance companies should focus more underwriting attention.”

The QPC executives indicated that recent news reports about older drivers causing serious auto accidents?such as the 86-year-old driver who killed 10 people in Santa Monica, Calif.?was a factor that prompted the study.