America’s love affair with the automobile has left a legacy that inc ludes some popular traditions. It begins with getting your driver’s license sometime in high school. That momentous occasion literally sets us free to go wherever, whenever we want to.

After that we pretty much take it for granted that driving is a way of life, and in many parts of the country, away from mass transit, driving is for all practical purposes a necessity.

For a growing number of older drivers that feeling that they must drive is contributing to greater numbers of accidents, injuries and deaths. It’s a trend that has caught the attention of the National Transportation Safety Board, which is analyzing accident statistics to see what impacts may come from the ‘graying of the roads’.

Some studies caution that elderly drivers will account for 25% of all motorists by 2030, and will be involved in 25% of all fatal accidents. But are America’s elderly drivers really a danger to themselves and others?

Recent trends are revealing that drivers who are over 80 have taken self limiting steps that increase their safety when they’re behind the wheel. By avoiding driving at night, taking fewer trips, travelling shorter distances and using familiar routes, they reduce their risk of being involved in serious accidents.

State and municipal governments are also looking at ways to increase safety through infrastructure improvements. One study in Massachusetts found that among drivers 70 and older, 40% of the fatal accidents occurred at intersections.

Failure to yield the right of way, especially in left turns was a primary cause. One solution was turning 4 way intersections into roundabouts. The European design eliminates drivers crossing in front of each other.

States are also trying a variety of rules to prompt retesting or otherwise restricting older drivers. But groups like AARP point out that arbitrary age cutoffs or mandatory testing unfairly penalize the majority for the mistakes of a few poor drivers. AARP cites the varying ability level of drivers at all ages.

If you’re an older driver, be proactive. Take a safe driving class designed for older drivers…you might be surprised what you’ll learn. Talk to us about information available to keep you safer behind the wheel; after all, it does affect everyone’s rates!

If someone in your family is an older or elderly driver, watch for warning signs that it may no longer be safe for them to drive. Don’t wait until there’s been an accident to take action.

This is the latest installment in our ongoing client education series Roseville Auto Insurance and Rocklin Auto Insurance.