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Older Drivers & Safety

February 28, 2012 by Rose Hoban in NC Health Beats
photo of traffic at night

Photo credit, Design by Zouny, Flickr Creative Commons

Older drivers are at more risk of traffic accidents and fatalities, according to a report (pdf) published by TRIPS a group funded by the construction industry.

The headline for North Carolina was particularly shocking… the state ranks fifth in the number of drivers 65-years-old or older involved in fatal motor vehicle crashes, and fourth in the number of older drivers killed.

But wait!

North Carolina has a lot more drivers overall, so of course, the state would have more crashes in all age groups, because we have more drivers in all age groups.

What’s important is the rate of crashes involving older people and when you look at  that, older North Carolina drivers aren’t so bad.  Sixteen percent of North Carolina drivers are 65-years-old or over, they were involved in 18 percent of the fatal crashes. Twenty-five states have equal or higher rates of traffic fatalities among seniors.

In states such as Vermont, 32 percent of traffic fatalities involved seniors in 2010. But Vermont also has few drivers, few older drivers, and fewer fatal crashes involving them.

For all ages, in 2009 (the most recent year of data), North Carolina ranked 16th in the nation in the number of traffic fatalities per vehicle miles.

North Carolina was number three in the rate of traffic fatalities on rural roads (2.73 fatalities/ million vehicle miles), behind South Carolina and Florida.

The recommendations to rectify this situation depend primarily on interventions that require construction workers.  Of the four recommendations, two called for more roadway construction (widening roads, rumble strips, etc) and enhanced public transit.

The TRIPS webpage that supposedly lists who supports the organization is blank. The page listing the board of directors consists almost completely of leaders from the construction industry and construction companies.

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  • Glad to see coverage of safety issues and especially the discussion on counts versus rates and the note about the page on who supports this TRIPS organization being blank. Great job NC Health News!

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