Most of us have gotten the “Oh you got your license? I better stay off the road!” rant at least once since being able to drive. A lot of factors go into why car accidents happen. This ranges from gender, age, sobriety, distractions etc. In my state (California) I know that we are not allowed to drive other individuals under 25 for an entire year after we get our license to ensure we are ready to take on the responsibility. Driving is so new to us when we’re only 16 years old, and the last thing a 16 year old needs in their first year of driving is to be overly distracted and cause an accident. There are many mixed opinions on whether teenagers or senior citizens cause the most accidents in the United States. We have the least amount of experience of anyone on the road, that is true, but why do teens and senior citizens crash more often?
Why do teens crash?
There are too many ways that can go wrong while driving as a young adult. One of the examples I came across was obviously distractions. Distractions for teens can range from texting, loud music, loud and obnoxious friends, too many people in the car, all the way to their phone simply buzzing. A lot of teens think it’s okay to check their phones at a stop light because they think it’s “safe” when it obviously is not. I can not tell you the amount of times I saw cars with high school stickers get honked at when the light turns green. Cell phones are a greater distraction while driving than you may think. It slows our body’s reaction time and negatively affects our focus. Surprisingly, this goes the same for hands-free cell phone calls! It’s unfortunate because we as a society have been told this whole time that hands-free is the way to go, but at least 30 studies have proven they do not make a difference for your safety. Aside from cell phone use (since most elderly people don’t really use cells phones like teens do), another big reason that teenagers crash their cars more frequently than others is because they are more likely to speed. This graph perfectly shows just how drastic the difference is between elderly drivers and teen drivers’ reported fatal crashes from speeding from 2007-2011.
Why do the elderly crash?
Aging has an effect on your body especially for driving. These effects tend to include loss of hearing, sight, and an increase in medical issues. While behind the wheel of the car, you need to be fully aware of what is happening and that is a difficult task for elderly people because it’s more difficult for them to react quickly. A lot of the time their crashes are due to driving below the speed limit or below the speed of traffic, having a harder time staying in their lane, and judging distance between cars.
Comparing both and Conclusion
As I was researching this topic, I came across extremely different statistic and study results when comparing who crashes more. As far as it goes for comparing senior citizens and teenagers, there are myriad sources that claim one thing or another that elderly people cause more accidents than teens and that teens cause more accidents than elderly people. One source (IIHS or Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) claims that you are 3 times more likely to crash your vehicle if you are between the ages 16-19 than drivers over 20 year of age. A different source (Consumer Reports) said that you’re 9 times more likely to crash your car if you’re between the ages of 16 and 17 as opposed to drivers that are middle aged. It then states that if you are 80 years of age or older you are 5.5 times more likely to be involved in a car crash. The next time you get in your car, remember to keep your phone out of reach and try not to speed like a maniac!