2022 SafeTREC Traffic Safety Fact Sheet: Aging Road Users

The older adult population in the United States aged 65 and older is expected to almost double between 2016 and 2060, from 49 million to 95 million. In 2020, there were 6,549 people aged 65 and older killed in traffic crashes in the United States; this accounted for 16.9 percent of all traffic fatalities. Older drivers 65 and older involved in fatal crashes decreased by 9.8 percent between 2019 and 2020. 

As drivers age, physical and mental changes including reduced visual acuity, increased fragility, restricted movement, and cognitive impairment may directly and indirectly result in driving impairments.

The United States Department of Transportation uses the Safe System Approach to work towards zero roadway fatalities and serious injuries. The Safe System Approach recognizes human mistakes and vulnerabilities, and designs a system with many redundancies in place to protect everyone. Designing streets to limit the impact of kinetic energy transfer in crashes may provide special benefit to older adults, as increased fragility exacerbates the severity of traffic injuries and the likelihood of death. 

Analyses presented in this section include fatal and serious injuries to drivers, passengers, bicyclists, pedestrians, and other non-motor vehicle occupants aged 65 and older. 

Garrett Fortin
Jill F. Cooper
Publication date: 
September 12, 2022
Publication type: 
Fact Sheet