TRENDS: Shift occuring in age demographic of drivers

The fact that there are more teens eligible to drive (8 percent more than a decade ago) led some analysts to forecast an uptick in accidents, however, other trends appear to be offsetting this.
First, the number of states requiring restricted or graduated licenses for teens is increasing. The National Safety Council and the Allstate Foundation are urging federal lawmakers to require states to implement graduated driver licensing laws for teens; the organizations issued a report last month that they say shows such restrictions could save more than 2,000 lives and $13.6 billion a year.
Today’s teens aren’t rushing to get their licenses like they did in previous generations. Only 75 percent of 19-year-old Americans have licenses, compared to 83 percent of 19-year-olds in 1983.
This and longer life spans is actually shifting the average age of American drivers upward. About 40 percent of drivers are age 65 or older – up from about 35 percent of all drivers a decade ago, and 10 percent of American drivers are age 70 or older.
These older drivers are staying licensed longer than in the past. Ninety-five percent of those 50-69 have licenses (up from 84 percent in 1983). The jump is even more dramatic with the older portion of this segment; 94 percent of those ages 65-69 are licensed, up from just 55 percent in 1983.
And according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the accident rate declines steadily among older populations. The accident rate for 17-year-olds is 20 per 100 drivers. This drops to 15 per 100 drivers among 20-year-olds, to 9 per 100 drivers in the 25-34 year bracket, and to 5 or lower among those 55 and up.