Center for Injury Research and Prevention

Driver Licensing, Motor Vehicle Crashes, and Moving Violations Among Older Adults

TitleDriver Licensing, Motor Vehicle Crashes, and Moving Violations Among Older Adults
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsPalumbo AJ, Pfeiffer MR, Metzger K, Curry AE
JournalJournal of Safety Research
Date Published11/2019
Type of Articlejournal
KeywordsDriving, elderly drivers, Epidemiology, linked data, population aging, travel behavior

Driving is important for well-being among older adults, but age-related conditions are associated with driving reduction or cessation and increased crash risk for older drivers. Our objectives were to describe population-based rates of older drivers’ licensing and per-driver rates of crashes and moving violations.

Methods: We examined individual-level statewide driver licensing, crash, and traffic citation data among all New Jersey drivers aged ≥ 65 and a 35- to 54-year-old comparison group during 2010–2014. Rate ratios (RR) of crashes and moving violations were estimated using Poisson regression.

Results: Overall, 86% of males and 71% of females aged ≥ 65 held a valid driver’s license. Older drivers had 27% lower per-driver crash rates than middle-aged drivers (RR: 0.73, 95% CI: 0.73, 0.74)—with appreciable differences by sex—but 40% higher fatal crash rates (RR: 1.40 [1.24, 1.58]). Moving violation rates among older drivers were 72% lower than middle-aged drivers (RR: 0.28 [0.28, 0.28]).

Conclusion: The majority of older adults are licensed, with substantial variation by age and sex. Older drivers have higher rates of fatal crashes but lower rates of moving violations compared with middle-aged drivers.

Practical applications: Future research is needed to understand the extent to which older adults drive and to identify opportunities to further reduce risk of crashes and resultant injuries among older adults.