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Are Older Drivers Also Safer Drivers? (Part Two)

In our last post, we started discussing the results of a survey conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, especially in regard to how age plays a role in highway safety. Today, we take a closer look at some of the specific categories covered in the report.

Impaired driving

AAA asked how often in the past year people drove when they thought they were at or over the legal limit of alcohol in their systems. Approximately 90 percent of the people in the age groups of 19-24, 40-59, and 60-74 said that they never did that, versus those in the 25-39 age group, where 80 percent responded that same way. While many people associate high-risk drinking and driving with those who are right around the legal drinking age (21), it seems that the next oldest age group is actually the one that exhibits the riskiest behaviors around drinking and driving.

Talking on the phone and distracted driving

While cellphone use in the car, including texting and other distracted driving behaviors, is skewed against younger drivers, the way that phones are used skews in the opposite direction.

Reading texts and driving

The data point that was picked up by media outlets does paint a fairly clear picture: Those aged 19-24 are more likely to read texts or emails, send texts or emails, or talk on a cellphone while driving.

In regard to sending or reading texts or emails, there is still an alarmingly high rate of this behavior from ages 25-59, even if the overall number of drivers engaging in this behavior drops with age.

For example, two out of three drivers in the 19-24 age range will read a text while driving. By the time you get to the age 40-59 bracket, the number has decreased, but just to around two out of every five drivers. That is still far too many people taking their eyes off the road while driving, and it's an issue that needs to be taken seriously regardless of age.

Using hands to make and receive calls

While older drivers do not use cellphones as often in the car, they are more likely to hold the phone in their hand and ignore safety-related functions such as hands-free devices. While only 13 percent of 19-to 24-year-olds always hold cellphones in their hands while driving, almost one third of those age 75 or older take a hand off the wheel to use their phones. Additionally, those in the 19-24 age bracket usually use hands-free devices almost 27 percent of the time, but those in the 75-plus bracket do the same less than 7 percent of the time.

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