Driver Age and Gender as Factors in Auto Accidents

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, (NHTSA), in the year 2000, people age 70 years or older made up 9% of the total population in this country, but accounted for 13% of all traffic fatalities.

There are more than 25 million people in this country over the age of 70. From 1990 to 2000, this older segment of the population grew twice as fast as the total population. According to NHTSA, in 2000, 181,000 people of this age group were injured in traffic crashes, accounting for 6% of all people injured in traffic crashes that year. 17% of all pedestrian fatalities were made up of people in this age category.

According to NHTSA, in two vehicle fatal crashes involving an older driver and a younger driver, the vehicle being driven by the older person was more than 3 times as likely to be hit (57% as opposed to 18%). In 44% of these crashes, both vehicles were proceeding straight at the time of the collision. In 27% the older driver was turning left. This is more than 6 times as often as in younger drivers.

In 2000, 16-24 year olds represented 24% of all traffic fatalities according to NHTSA data. On a per population basis, young drivers under the age of 25 had the highest rate of involvement in fatal crashes than any other age group. Compared with fatality rates for drivers 25 through 69 years old, the rate for teenage drivers is about 4 times as high.

Moreover, the intoxication rate for 16-20 year old drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2000 was 15% according to NHTSA. The highest intoxication rates were for drivers 21 to 24 years old (27%) and 25-34 years old (24%).

In 2000, NHTSA reported that the fatal crash rate per 100,000 persons was almost 3 times as high for male drivers than as for female drivers. Males accounted for 68% of all traffic fatalities, 68% of all pedestrian fatalities and 89% of all pedal cyclist fatalities in 2000. Young female drivers, under age 50 have a lower fatality rate than their male counterparts on a per mile driven basis. However, the fatality rate for males and females over the age of 50 is essentially the same.

NHTSA reports that in 2000, among female drivers of passenger vehicles involved in fatal crashes, 29% were unrestrained with seatbelts at the time of the collision compared with 43% of male drives found to be unrestrained in fatal crashes.

People in passenger vehicles between the ages of 10 and 24 years, involved in fatal crashes, had the lowest rate of restraint (seatbelt) use 49% while those over age 65 had the highest rate of restraint use at 69%.

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