Older road users still safe – but watch this space
While collision rates among older road users are on the rise, they are still relatively low compared to some other groups - but that may not remain the case going forward.
That is the main message from an analysis of older road user involvement in road collisions in the north east of England, carried out by the North East Regional Road Safety Resource.
The report analyses the statistics on older road user (70+ years) involvement in collisions on roads in north east England between 2009 and 2013. It looks into both injuries sustained by older road users, and collisions in which they were involved.
This topic was chosen for detailed investigation due to the potential road safety issues relating to an aging population in the region (and across the rest of the UK), with projections from the Office for National Statistics estimating that 20% of the population in the north east will be aged 70 years or over by 2034, compared to 13% in 2013.
The analysis found that while the number of casualties sustained by older road users is decreasing, the rate of reduction is slower than in other age groups, particularly when taking into account the increasing size of the population aged over 70 years. However, older road users still account for one of the lowest casualty groups in the north east despite the aging population.
While the number of older drivers involved in collisions has increased, those from most other age groups have fallen over the same period.
However, in terms of actual numbers, only drivers under the age of 17 years were involved in fewer collisions than older drivers.
Furthermore, while older drivers account for 10% of the region’s licence holders, they are only involved in 5% of crashes. In contrast, drivers aged 17-24 years comprise 8% of licence holders but were involved in 19% of collisions.
Peter Slater, from the North East Regional Road Safety Resource, said: “The main message from this report is that while there are currently bigger issues to address on the north east’s roads - including younger drivers, failure to look properly, and people driving for work - we have not seen the same levels of improvement among older road users as for other groups and issues.
“This trend may be exacerbated in coming years as the number of older drivers increases.”