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Keywords:

  • driver fatality rate;
  • driving license;
  • older drivers;
  • road safety;
  • road user fatalities

Objectives

To compare risk of fatal injury in elderly road users (drivers, passengers, pedestrians) with that of younger age groups and to assess the contribution of elderly road users to the number of reported fatalities in the population.

Design

Fatality age was categorized as 21 to 29, 30 to 39, 40 to 49, 50 to 59, 60 to 69, or 70 and older, and road user was categorized as driver, passenger, or pedestrian. Estimated number of trips made by each age group was used to adjust for exposure and to measure individual risk.

Setting

Fatalities recorded in Britain between 1989 and 2009.

Participants

Population-wide fatal injury counts in Britain.

Measurements

Age of fatally injured drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. Estimated number of trips made per year by drivers, passengers, and pedestrians.

Results

Risk of fatal injury, but not fatality numbers in the population, were higher for older adult (≥70) drivers than for younger age groups. Risk of fatal injury was also high for older adult passengers and pedestrians, who represented the majority of older adult fatalities.

Conclusion

Previous emphasis on driver impairment in older age has unduly focussed attention on elderly drivers, who represent a minority of all driver fatalities. Older adults represent a much larger proportion of passenger and pedestrian fatalities. Additional policy schemes and initiatives should be targeted at safeguarding older adult passengers and making the road environment safer for elderly pedestrians.