Everyone knows that insurance rates are determined by a number of factors, including age, type of car, location, and even the number of miles driven. Gender is often used to determine insurance rates as well based on statistics that show that women are safer drivers. Insurance rates start to go down once you hit a certain age (typically 35–40) but may start increasing again once you hit the age of 65. This increase is based on the fact that an older driver may not be involved in as many accidents but tends to have higher costs associated with the accidents they do have. This added cost is usually in relation to medical costs rather than the cost of the vehicle’s repair.
Some states do actually offer insurance discounts that are automatic at a set age. Other states may offer these discounts under certain conditions, such as requiring a special driver’s course for older drivers.
Some Senior Driver Statistics
Of licensed drivers in the U.S., it is estimated that slightly over 33 million are age 65 or older. By the year 2030 that number will more than double. Here are some more stats:
- Arthritis can strike at any age, but it is estimated that up to 80% of people over the age of 80 have at least some form of it. Arthritis, which is a painful, degenerative disease affecting the joints, can make it difficult to turn properly. It can also affect the strength of the hands, the legs, and the feet, which makes the basics of driving difficult. It may also mean powerful medications are needed to handle the pain, which may interfere with reaction time.
- Speaking of meds, three-quarters of people over the age of 65 take at least one medication. Of these people, only a few know the full range of side effects for the meds they take, and even fewer reported having the most common of these.
- Vision and hearing problems may also cause problems for older drivers, making it vitally important that screenings be done frequently.
Senior Accidents, Injuries, and Fatalities
While senior drivers may not drive as often or as many miles as younger drivers, they do tend to have higher rates of injuries and death based on their age. Accidents involving a senior may also lead to longer recovery times, more follow-up appointments, and a poorer prognosis over all.
- Over 5,500 older drivers are killed in accidents every year.
- A total of 214,000 of senior drivers will be injured each year.
- The risk of having a fatal crash will increase at age 70 and will become highest at age 85 or older, regardless of the amount of driving. This is likely due to physical condition rather than anything else however.
- Older drivers are at a nearly twenty percent higher risk of dying during or shortly after an accident.
Some Senior Positives
The news is not all bad however. Seniors tend to drive fewer miles and also tend to avoid the more dangerous hours of driving. Most seniors also try to avoid driving in foul weather if they can avoid it. Nearly eighty percent do use their seatbelts, and a senior driver is less likely to have an alcohol-related crash.
Senior Drivers and Insurance Discounts
In some states, there is an automatic discount on insurance for those who have reached a certain age. In other states, the discount can only be applied if an approved driver’s course is successfully completed. There are other discounts that the senior driver might be qualified for, including:
- Multi-car or multi-policy discounts or bundled savings, where you buy your home, car, and life insurance from a single provider.
- Paid in full discounts by paying your policy in full at the time of renewal saves time and money for the insurance company and for you.
- Taking a driver’s course even if you are not required to do so.
Remember, the more that you can do to ensure safe driving, the more you will save on your insurance. Your driving record is one of the main things that is reviewed when it is time to write a policy.
Non-Standard Insurance Policies for Senior Drivers
Some seniors worry that they are paying for car insurance that they do not really need. There are other types of policies that take into consideration the way that they drive. Two options, usage based and mileage based, can help the senior driver save on insurance by having them only pay for insurance based on how and why they drive or by how much they drive.
In areas where usage-based insurance is available, you will be asked to use a monitor that will note average speed, braking, and other indicators to determine how safe you are as a driver.
Easy Ways to Stay Safe Behind the Wheel
It is important that the senior driver does everything that they can to stay safe behind the wheel. This includes doing things like keeping all windows and mirrors clean and making sure that headlights are clean and working correctly. Other tips include the following:
- Be aware of how medications affect you, and be cautious when changing the dosage or starting new medicines.
- Try to stay in your best health by getting a little exercise every day, which can help maintain posture, range of motion, and flexibility. It can also help to prevent some of the aches and pains that might make it harder to drive safely.
- Try to make sure that you are getting enough sleep each night. Avoid driving during periods of the day when you know you tend to be drowsy.
- Stay hydrated. Most seniors are unaware of the fact that even slight dehydration can cause or exacerbate confusion, which can lead to dangerous mix-ups on the road.
- Try to avoid high traffic areas or busy times of the day, especially if you tend to become stressed in these types of situations.
- Avoid anything that can cause distraction while driving, including changing the radio station or talking on the phone.
Most seniors are perfectly safe behind the wheel and are able to continue driving for most of their remaining years with a few precautions.