Broward News

The Olds Are Much Safer Drivers Than the Youngs, Statistics Show, Sort Of

If you're in your 20s (or 30s, 40s, 50s...), the 85-year-old lady barely peeking over her dashboard and reaching up to the steering wheel of her Lincoln Continental might be a safer driver than you are, if you take driving statistics at face value, according to the Sun-Sentinel.

You may laugh at her "Over the Hill" bumper sticker, the fur-like padding on her seats, or her goggle-like sunglasses, but as the statistically better driver, she gets the last laugh.

Or does she?

The Sentinel reports that in 2009, the crash rate for 65-year-old Florida licensed drivers was 106.75 per 10,000, and the crash rate decreased from there with age -- 98.27 for 75-year-olds and 88.85 for 85-year-olds. Twenty-year-old drivers, on the other side of the crash-rate spectrum, racked up 348.58 crashes per 10,000 licensed drivers.

Finding it odd, or oddly humbling, we are a little skeptical of these numbers. We've cooked up two theories that would render these numbers significantly misleading.

Theory #1 in defense of millennial generation driving skills:
Elderly people often keep their licenses even though they do not drive. To many, giving up a license feels like surrendering -- just ask their children who have to take away their cars or convince them to call for a ride or take the bus. Families often beat the state to revoking the licenses of their elderly loved ones. Yet, older people must keep a valid ID to travel, etc., so they may keep renewing their licenses without ever stepping on the gas pedal.

Theory #2:
Perhaps young people rear-end frustratingly slow drivers (re: elderly) so often that the statistics are skewed by the minor accidents that occur when these generational subsets collide.

But of course, as we said, these are merely theories. And after all, the olds have been driving their entire life (experience>skill?), and while we cherish their advice on life and romance, maybe it's time we also look to Gramps for some help with our lead feet. Or maybe not?

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Leslie Minora