Elderly drivers are no more likely to die on the road than those in their 20s, according to a UK study that looked at fatal road accidents over a 20-year period.
There has been a shift in recent years in both the United Kingdom and the United States toward more demanding licensing renewal processes for older adults, who are often assumed to be more dangerous on the road than younger drivers due to reduced eyesight and cognitive abilities.
"The focus is usually on older drivers as a danger to themselves and other drivers," said Jonathan Rolison, who led the study at the University of Plymouth in the UK.
For the study, which appeared in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, Rolison and his colleagues reviewed UK police records on all fatal road accidents reported between 1989 and 2009.
They found that the risk of dying behind the wheel was similar for older adult drivers and young people every time they got in the car. Thirteen in 100 million driving trips ended in fatality among those under 29 years of age, compared to 14 in 100 million trips for people over 70.
The elderly still accounted for fewer driver deaths overall. In 2009, when 1,138 people died behind the wheel, one in 10 was over age 70, while younger drivers accounted for one in four of those deaths.
For both drivers and passengers, risks were highest at both ends of the age spectrum and dipped among middle-aged people.
Researchers also looked at figures for those struck and killed while walking - and found that the risk of being killed as a pedestrian was five times higher for older people than for the young.
Among older adults, 23 trips in every 100 million were fatal, and they accounted for 37 percent of all pedestrian deaths in 2009.
"Assessing whether older adults can drive is important, but the problem is it leads to policies which are becoming tighter and tighter and distracts us from older adults at risk as pedestrians," Rolison said.
"Older adults in a way are the ideal drivers, as they control their exposure to risk ... If it's a rainy day, the older adults will stay at home, whereas people in middle-age groups still have to go to work or drop kids off at school."
Other experts agreed that more attention should be given to keeping older people safe as passengers and pedestrians, rather than restricting them as drivers, and that with baby boomers aging, now is the time to focus on making pathways and transportation areas more safe.
"You shouldn't assume that your granddad should avoid getting behind the wheel because he won't necessarily be safer walking down the street," said Rolison. SOURCE: bit.ly/OanJJb
Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said on Wednesday he would continue and expand the NYPD Twitter campaign a day after it backfired, triggering an outpouring of negative images
Deals on connections that happen before they reach the user, known as interconnection agreements, are outside of their scope.
Rousseff spoke at a global conference that she convened on how to govern a safer, less U.S.-centered Internet after revelations that she and other world leaders had been spied upon by the NSA
The arrests came as Cambodia prepares its first Cyber Crime law, a draft of which has been criticised as contains measures meant to silence criticism of government.
City-killer asteroids are forecast to strike about once every 100 years, but the prediction is not based on hard evidence.
The two-day Net Mundial conference in Sao Paulo will discuss cyber security and how to safeguard privacy and freedom of expression on the Internet, as well as the shape of a future international body
Though the overall number of spying incidents studied tripled to 511 from total in the 2013 Verizon report, most of that increase is due to the addition of new data sources
There were no reports of damage but the ball of fire raised eyebrows after a meteorite crashed to Earth near the Russian city of Chelyabinsk
NASA officials had planned to crash the spacecraft into the moon, after it transmitted its final batch of data.
The discovery is the closest scientists have come so far to finding a true Earth twin
An ambitious project in Turkey's south could see a pioneering clean energy project.
Depending on local weather conditions, the eclipse was visible across a swath of the United States
Google and Facebook have been competing in innovative ways to increase internet access globally and tap into previously untouched markets.
A 14-year-old Dutch girl who sent a terror threat to American Airlines as a Twitter “joke” has been arrested by police in Rotterdam
The legal action is the first to emerge from a humiliating episode for Microsoft, which the software company has never fully explained and has accounted for only as a "technical error."