Seniors are referred to as drivers over the age of 65—some of whom are still very active and many of whom are continuing members of the work force. Decreases in vision, hearing, slower motor responses, and changes in cognition have been said to challenge this demographic as they grow older.
Did you ever think that with more of the population aging, they might be doing a better job of acknowledging their limitations? Some seniors I spoke with tell me that they no longer drive at night because it is harder to see and they are not as sharp as they are during the morning hours. Others tell me that they stay out of rush hour and start their days later and end them earlier so that they can avoid heavily traveled roads, especially in inclement weather. Still others advise that they stay off major thoroughfares, and instead drive on side streets and roadways they have driven on all their lives. With the baby boomers fast approaching their 70’s what can we expect? Will their auto insurance rates go up or down? Is it possible that seniors can be said to be driving more cautiously with fewer accidents? Could it be safer roads, reduced speeds, traffic conditions, safer vehicles, the use of seatbelts, daytime running lights, or even the lengthening of daylight savings time in some areas of the country? The fact is that over the past decade it is reported that fatality rates for senior drivers have come down more dramatically than for any other age group. For this reason, auto rates for the age group of 65-75 have decreased in many states with many carriers simply due to the claim statistics.
Most of all, it is reported that older drivers actually drive fewer miles per year than their younger counterparts. Some insurance carriers also take this into consideration when calculating rates for the senior demographics. Of course, we haven’t yet gotten to the point where the “baby boomers” are over 75 years of age. That will take a few more years and it should be interesting to watch the results in insurance rates for this demographic.
It is important that seniors realize their driving ability can change as they age even though they may have been driving their entire life with an excellent safety record. In order to continue to drive safely, it is crucial for seniors to recognize that changes can happen and to regularly assess their driving skills.
By Karen Skolar, CPCU